Raccoons maul woman, 74, who shooed them away

— A 74-year-old who was "filleted" by raccoons when she tried to shoo them away from her central Florida home was hospitalized for more than two days, authorities said Monday.

Gretchen Whitted, of Lakeland, was in stable condition Monday, two days after she saw a family of raccoons near her back patio. She told rescue personnel she tried to wave the animals away; a few minutes later, she spotted them at her front door and tried to run them off again. Then they attacked.

Whitted fell, and the five animals bit and clawed at her, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said.

"They enveloped her," the sheriff said.

"We're not talking about a lot of little bites here," Judd added. "She was filleted."

A neighbor called for help after hearing the woman's cries and seeing her covered in blood.

Whitted received dozens of staples and sutures and was treated for rabies, though officials doubt the animals were infected.

Fire crews flooded nearby drains where some of the animals escaped, but none turned up. Animal Control officers hope to catch them in traps baited with wet cat food and sardines.

"I've been a hunter all my life and I've never heard of raccoons attacking in a mob like this," Judd said.

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