Raccoon bites dog, then owner


Herald Writer

CAMANO ISLAND – A rowdy raccoon trying to make a meal of a wiener dog turned his teeth onto a 70-year-old woman who defended her dinky daschund with a flurry of footwear.

Betty Garrels had just opened her back door Monday night to let the little dog out for a nature call. But when Buddy bounded down the steps, a raccoon was waiting eight feet away.

The screeching raccoon, which weighed about 40 pounds and was three times bigger than Buddy, jumped on the daschund.

"He was trying to kill him, of course.

"It was vicious," Garrels recalled. "I was so upset I was screaming my head off."

Garrels grabbed a pair of walking shoes from the steps and whipped them at the raccoon. She then grabbed a pair of moccasins and threw those, too.

"I was throwing everything I could grab," she said.

All but one shoe missed.

Apparently, the raccoon wasn’t intimidated. Or amused.

As Garrels started to walk down the steps, the animal lunged.

"The raccoon let go of the dog and came after me, up on the porch. And he got me," Garrels said.

The raccoon jumped on her right leg and bit her, leaving at least four puncture marks. Her leg is swollen and bruised.

"It was just like lightning. I couldn’t believe how fast this animal was," she said.

But just as quickly, the raccoon turned back to Buddy and started attacking again.

Garrels picked up a green plastic watering can and threw it at the raccoon.

"It was enough to make him let go of the dog. Thank God," she said. "It was pretty much a miracle that the dog wasn’t killed … . If I would have gotten into it with him, he would have killed me, too. There’s no doubt about it."

Buddy now sports stitches on his right leg and down his back.

Garrels, who lives on Sunset Drive on the northwest side of the island and owns Nick’s espresso stand in Stanwood, was taken to Providence Everett Medical Center’s Colby campus for treatment. The raccoon wasn’t found, so it was impossible to determine whether it had rabies. That meant Garrels had to get shots.

Rabies vaccine to treat Garrels was sent to the Everett hospital in a taxi from Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. She began getting the shots early Tuesday morning: a shot in each hip, in her shoulder and in the wound.

"This is not fun," she said.

It’s not unusual for raccoons to bite humans, said Dr. Jo Hofmann, deputy health officer for the Snohomish Health District.

"Of all the wild animals out there, this is probably the most common" for bites, she said.

"They’re used to humans and pretty intrepid. They will come pretty close to you if they think you’re a source of food," Hofmann said.

Bites often occur when people try to break up a fight between a household pet and a raccoon, or when they try to feed the animals, she said.

There have been no reported cases of raccoons testing positive for rabies in Washington, although rabid raccoons are relatively common in the eastern United States, she said.

Garrels said she has four additional hospital visits for shots, the last in mid-August.

Even so, she’s upbeat.

"I am so lucky, and the dog, too. I feel so blessed, ‘cause it could have been so much worse," Garrels said.

She has advice, too, for folks who think raccoons are cute and cuddly:

"Stay away from them. They’re darling, but they’re also a wild animal."

You can call Herald Writer Brian Kelly at 425-339-3422 or send e-mail to


Talk to us

More in Local News

FILE - A sign hangs at a Taco Bell on May 23, 2014, in Mount Lebanon, Pa. Declaring a mission to liberate "Taco Tuesday" for all, Taco Bell asked U.S. regulators Tuesday, May 16, 2023, to force Wyoming-based Taco John's to abandon its longstanding claim to the trademark. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)
Hepatitis A confirmed in Taco Bell worker in Everett, Lake Stevens

The health department sent out a public alert for diners at two Taco Bells on May 22 or 23.

VOLLI’s Director of Food & Beverage Kevin Aiello outside of the business on Friday, May 19, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Coming soon to Marysville: indoor pickleball, games, drinks

“We’re very confident this will be not just a hit, but a smash hit,” says co-owner Allan Jones, who is in the fun industry.

Detectives: Unresponsive baby was exposed to fentanyl at Everett hotel

An 11-month-old boy lost consciousness Tuesday afternoon. Later, the infant and a twin sibling both tested positive for fentanyl.

Cassie Franklin (left) and Nick Harper (right)
Report: No wrongdoing in Everett mayor’s romance with deputy mayor

An attorney hired by the city found no misuse of public funds. Texts between the two last year, however, were not saved on their personal phones.

Firearm discovered by TSA officers at Paine Field Thursday morning, May 11, 2023, during routine X-ray screening at the security checkpoint. (Transportation Security Administration)
3 guns caught by TSA at Paine Field this month — all loaded

Simple travel advice: Unpack before you pack to make sure there’s not a gun in your carry-on.

Heavy traffic northbound on 1-5 in Everett, Washington on August 31, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
To beat the rush this Memorial Day weekend, go early or late

AAA projects busy airports, ferries and roads over the holiday weekend this year, though still below pre-pandemic counts.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Snohomish in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Troopers: DUI crash leaves 1 in critical condition in Maltby

A drunken driver, 34, was arrested after her pickup rear-ended another truck late Tuesday, injuring a Snohomish man, 28.

Housing Hope CEO Donna Moulton raises her hand in celebration of the groundbreaking of the Housing Hope Madrona Highlands on Tuesday, May 23, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
$30M affordable housing project to start construction soon in Edmonds

Once built, dozens of families who are either homeless or in poverty will move in and receive social and work services.

Smoke comes out of the roof of ReMyx'd, a restaurant on Smokey Point Drive, on Sunday, May 28, 2023, in Arlington, WA. (IAFF Local 3438)
Fire damages Arlington bar that received death threats

Arlington Police say initial indications are that fire at ReMyx’d does not appear to be intentionally set.

Most Read