Beware of getting too close to a mother raccoon and her young.
A Lakewood woman was chased and mauled by several raccoons near Fort Steilacoom Park Monday, leaving her with about 100 scratches, punctures and bite wounds.
Around 1:30 p.m. Monday, Michaela Lee, 28, was jogging with her dog near her home at the edge of the park when her dog got loose and started chasing some raccoons. Turns out, the raccoons included a mama raccoon and her babies, said Lt. Chris Lawler with Lakewood police.
Her dog chased the raccoons up a tree. When Lee went to fetch her dog, more raccoons came out of the brush and began chasing her.
"As I was bending down, I saw them coming through the grass," she said. "You wouldn't believe how fast raccoons can run."
Lee took off running with at least five raccoons chasing after her.
"I felt like they were hunting me, 'taking me down' pack mentality," said Lee.
She made it about 75 feet to a neighbor’s yard where she was knocked down to the ground and mauled by the raccoons.
"They tripped me, they jumped on me, were biting me," Lee said. "It's kind of surreal. The kind of thing you'd see in a movie."
A witness said he saw three really big raccoons attacking Lee while she was on the ground and he yelled for help. The attack lasted for about 30 seconds before she was able to get away.
Lee's dog, Madison, also helped scare off the raccoons.
"I've never seen (Madison) like that. I think she literally saved my face," said Lee.
Lee was transported in an ambulance to a hospital. She ended up with about 100 wounds, consisting of scratches, scrapes and puncture wounds. About 16 were puncture/bite wounds.
Lee is worried about the next person who might get attacked.
"We have elderly neighbors who walk their dogs through here. People bring their little kids. What would they do?" said Lee.
While Lee is not afraid of heading back into the woods, she does say she will be better prepared for the raccoons.
"I'll have some bear mace with me," she said.
Lee isn't out of the woods quite yet. She has three more rounds of rabies shots. On Monday, she had to get individual injections of antibiotics in each of the 16 puncture wounds. She said that hurt worse than the attack.
Lakewood police said there haven’t been any other reported problems with raccoons in the park or in the city. An Animal Control spokesman said he believes this was a case of a mother raccoon trying to protect her young and considers it a rare, isolated incident.
Animal control adds it is rare for raccoons to carry rabies and they are more of a threat to dogs with canine distemper than anything else.