“I took it straight to the ground and started inching my hands up to its throat. I knew that was the only way I was getting out of this,” said 46-year-old DeDe Phillips.
ATHENS, Ga. — A rabid bobcat recently attacked a Hart County grandmother in her yard, spurring a furious battle that ended with the cat’s strangulation death.
“I thought, ‘Not today.’ There was no way I was going to die,” DeDe Phillips said Thursday as she recalled the attack that occurred June 7 at her home off Liberty Church Road.
Phillips has begun a round of rabies shots at Northeast Georgia Medical Center. She also has a broken finger and numerous bite and claw wounds to her hands, arms, chest and legs.
“I’m very lucky,” the 46-year-old woman said.
The unprovoked attack occurred about 6 p.m. She had been working on her truck that afternoon and posted a bumper sticker that read: “Women who behave rarely make history.” She planned to photograph the sticker and send it to her husband.
She walked out of the house with her cellphone.
“My neighbor’s dog was barking, and it drew my attention,” she said. “I saw the cat and I took a picture. The cat took two steps and was on top of me. … It came for my face.”
Phillips grew up in the country, where her father-in-law was once a trapper of bobcats. As a result, she knew something about the animal’s behavior.
“They go for your jugular … because when they can get the vein, you’re dead in a couple of minutes,” she said.
This bobcat did go for her upper body.
“It caught me slightly on my face, but I got him before he could do much damage there,” she said. “I took it straight to the ground and started inching my hands up to its throat. I knew that was the only way I was getting out of this.”
With both hands around the bobcat’s neck, she began squeezing, but she never shouted for help because her 5-year-old granddaughter was in the house.
“I was scared if I screamed for help that my granddaughter would come out, and I didn’t want that to happen,” she said.
“Once I got him where he wasn’t moving, I started screaming for my daughter-in-law to call 911,” she said. Phillips’ son was also called after the 911 call, and he showed up with a gun.
But Phillips would not release her grip on the crazed animal as she feared it might not truly be dead.
She didn’t want her son to fire the gun because she was so close, so he pulled a knife.
“My son stabbed it four or five times. But it never budged, so I knew it was completely dead,” she said.
After Hart County deputies and an ambulance arrived, Phillips drove herself to a hospital. She learned the next day the bobcat was rabid.
Phillips lives in a rural area near the Elbert County line and said she learned only recently a rabid skunk and rabid fox were found in the same area.
Phillips’ cousin Amy Leann Mize has set up an account at fundly.com/let-s-help-dede to raise money for Phillips’ medical expenses as the first round of rabies shots already have cost her $10,000. She also faces expenses for treatments to her wounds.
Wayne Ford is a reporter for the Athens (Ga.) Banner-Herald.