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Tangled turf: Humans, critters collide over space

Scheuerman was taking out the garbage on a Monday evening when she heard vicious growling, and out of nowhere, something launched itself at her, knocking her over.

"When you're being attacked by a dog, you think to yourself, `OK, this is a dog,'" said Scheuerman. "But this was making a horrible noise, and I didn't recognize what it was " it was like something from a Stephen King book."

"It" was a fisher, a member of the weasel family, about 10 to 12 pounds with sharp fanged teeth. The frothing animal bit into her foot and refused to let go.

"The survival instinct kicked in, and although my first thought was to grab the animal with my hands, the rational part of my brain warned me not to," said Scheuerman. "I reached around and grabbed a fire extinguisher, thinking I could spray it, but I didn't have time to read the directions."

Instead, she whacked at the animal several times before it unlatched from her foot and ran away. Dazed and in shock, she limped inside and called her husband.

"He asked me if I'd called 9-1-1, but I hadn't even thought of that," Scheuerman admitted. "The whole incident probably lasted less than a minute, but it seemed like forever."

The fisher was tracked, located and killed, and then Scheuerman received what most people would say was the worst of news: The animal tested positive for rabies. Doctors at St. Claire's Hospital prepared her for the grueling series of rabies shots, the first of which had to be administered directly into the wound itself.

"One of the hardest things about the injection was I had to lie on my back, and I was all bruised and banged up from the fall," said Scheuerman. "But I didn't cry. I've had three children so I know pain. Honestly, the biting hurt far worse than the shot."

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