PHOENIX – People flock to the Arizona desert town of Sedona for its tranquility and relaxation. But tranquility turned to terror after a rabid bobcat attacked residents and pets.
Authorities killed the rabid animal after it injured four people, a dog and a house cat in three separate attacks last week in Sedona.
The bobcat first struck Thursday morning when a man heard strange noises coming from his parked vehicle and looked underneath. The sick animal scratched and bit the man and injured his dog before running away.
Five hours later, a woman called police to report that a bobcat attacked her house cat, Roger, while the two animals were under her vehicle. The woman was not injured, but Roger was scratched on his rear leg before the bobcat fled.
The bobcat was spotted about 20 minutes later running through the parking lot at Los Abrigados Resort and Spa. Three employees trying to get the bobcat out from under vehicles and to leave the property were scratched before police arrived.
"There were all these kinds of people crowded around the cat, which was under the car growling," said Gene Kurz, a community service officer for the Sedona Police Department who responded to the call at the resort. "And once it was determined the cat was sick, people listened real fast and got out of the way."
The bobcat ran into a nearby storm wash. Game and Fish officers attempted to capture the animal, but it was too aggressive, and they shot and killed the bobcat with a pistol.
Authorities say the incident serves as a reminder to not approach wild animals, especially ones acting as erratically as the bobcat.
"In the future, if anyone sees an animal that's acting unusual, somewhat more aggressive or a nocturnal animal out in the daytime, the best thing is to stay away, get your pets secured, and the first call should be to Arizona Game and Fish department," said Arizona Game and Fish spokeswoman Shelly Shepherd.
Test results later confirmed the bobcat had rabies.
Only the man from the first incident was bitten. The three men at the resort suffered minor scratches to their arms.
The dog, which was vaccinated, was placed in quarantine that will last less than two weeks. The house cat's vaccinations were expired so Roger was placed on a longer, 45-day home quarantine.
Shepherd said the bobcat may have had contact with other people or pets in the five-hour gap between attacks.
"If anyone had contact with a sick animal, or if their pet did, then they should please contact their health provider or vet," Shepherd said.