Bobcat attacks teen, rips jacket and more

Patrick Reihl wasn’t too happy with the thanks he got for doing his chores Saturday night. It wasn’t a raise in his allowance or a later curfew. No, he did his chores and got attacked by a bobcat.
It happened when he was taking out the trash, in the backyard near the family’s deck.
“(It) came from the woods at the bottom of the hill, and it jumped on me,” the 14-year-old said. “And it got me to the ground and was clawing me.”
The teenager managed to get the better of the bobcat, which he said was about three feet high, by punching it repeatedly. Bobcats can weigh up to 40 pounds.
“That thing was all muscle,” he said. “It was right in front of my face trying to bite my neck. I just kept punching it.”
But once it got off Patrick and he was able to stand up, the bobcat went after him again, tearing at his clothes. The cat made a lunge at him, but hit a broken washing machine sitting underneath the deck.
"I knew there was a good reason I hadn’t taken that thing to the dump yet,” Tony Reihl, Patrick’s father, said.
Patrick took that opportunity to kick the bobcat in the eye. The animal then scampered back into the woods.
“I was scared, but I wasn’t panicking,” Patrick said. “I was just trying to think of what to do next.”
He spent the rest of the night home nursing the scratches to his legs and then went to The William W. Backus Hospital on Sunday for a series of rabies shots.
Dennis Schain, spokesman for the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, said even though officials hadn’t located the bobcat as of Sunday evening, Patrick’s scratches and description were consistent with that of a bobcat. Schain believes it was rabid, though, because the animals don’t normally exhibit that type of behavior.
“It’s certainly unusual,” he said. “We think it was a bobcat and it has rabies. But just because it was a bobcat doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a lot of other bobcats with rabies out there.”
Schain said if the department doesn’t locate the bobcat within the next several days, it will die from rabies soon.
Living in a rural area, the Reihls understand animals come with the territory, but they’re worried about an incident like this happening again.
“This isn’t a raccoon, this is an animal that ran 50 yards to a five-foot-eight, 120-pound kid,” Tony Reihl said. “If this is a 5-year-old out in the backyard, that’s a concern.”
The Reihls would like the state to take some sort of action to prevent another attack happening, but they know the state can only do so much. They’re not too deterred from their quiet setting, either.
“We like it here, it’s nice,” Tony Reihl said. “Except for the bobcats.”
Reach Dustin Racioppi at 860-774-5588 or