A North Baltimore woman will have to endure a series of rabies shots after a raccoon bit her in her back yard.
Elizabeth Knottrodt, 67, had planned a relaxing evening with a book Saturday at her home in the first block of Melrose Ave.
Knottrodt said she was sitting in a mesh lawn chair around 5 p.m. when she felt what she took to be a playful paw on her back.
"I thought it was the cat," Knottrodt said yesterday. "I reached around to pet it, and I felt a bite."
Knottrodt said she jerked her arm forward and found a raccoon hanging from it.
The animal refused to let go until her screams alerted her husband, Reinhard, who came running, she said.
The raccoon released her arm and was chased up a tree by her cat, McGregor, Knottrodt said.
Bob Anderson, director of the city's Bureau of Animal Control, said raccoons are the No. 1 carriers of rabies in the state.
There have been incidents this year in which people have been confronted by raccoons, Anderson said.
He said he believes Knottrodt is the first person bitten this year in the city.
"Any time anyone is bitten, they begin rabies shots immediately," Anderson said.
"We've set traps, but there is no guarantee that we will catch the raccoon, and even if we do, there's no way of knowing if it's the same raccoon that bit her."
Anderson said the Bureau of Animal Control advises people not to approach raccoons and to keep their yards clean to avoid attracting the animals.
"A raccoon, if they are at your house, are looking for food," Anderson said. "We tell people to keep their garbage cans tightly covered, not leave dog food out and to try and keep their property as clean as possible."
Anderson said the best defense is to avoid the animals.
"They are wildlife and should be treated as such," Anderson said. "Just respect them and keep away."
Knottrodt said that since the attack, neighbors have reported seeing a raccoon scurrying through the area.
She decided to go public with her story, she said, hoping to save others from being bitten.
"There are children in the area, and I want people to be aware of what happened," Knottrodt said.
"Everyone should be careful."
Knottrodt was treated at Greater Baltimore Medical Center and released.
She said Saturday's experience is one she'll not soon forget.
"It was a nightmare," she said.