DeDe Phillips, a 46-year-old resident of Hart County, had to fight off and strangle a bobcat that lunged at her throat and violently attacked her with its teeth and claws.
DeDe said she left her house to take a picture of a new decal she put on her truck when she spotted the cat underneath the vehicle. It was around 6 p.m. on June 7.
“I snapped a picture (the one included in this article), and I’m thinking, ‘This is cool, it’s a bobcat,’” said DeDe. “I figured he was going to take off running as soon as he sees me. He doesn’t. He takes a couple steps toward me and then a flying leap and tries to attack my throat, and I look down, and he caught me on the side of my face.”
DeDe never even thought about running inside to get away from the animal. Her daughter-in-law and 5-year-old granddaughter were inside, so there was no way she was going to give the animal even the slightest chance of getting to either one.
“You never turn your back on a (mad) person or a wild animal,” said DeDe. “If I had backed into the house, I know how fast they are, then I would have given it a chance to get in my house. If it had gotten her, I could never have lived with myself.”
What did go through her mind, however, was quite interesting.
“My first thought was, ‘Not today,’” said DeDe.
When the cat lunged, it nearly knocked DeDe off her feet, but she was able to keep her footing and pin the animal to the ground. While it was clawing and scratching at her hands, she slowly moved her hands around its neck.
“I took it to the ground and worked my hands up to its throat and choked the life out of it,” said DeDe. “Then I wouldn’t let it go. I was sitting there going through my head trying to remember all the things I had been taught over the years like, ‘Is the bobcat one of those that will play possum with you until you let go and let your defense down?’”
After she yelled for her daughter-in-law to call her son and 911, her son showed up and made sure the animal was dead. DeDe had to be taken to the emergency room immediately, as she had more than 27 bite and claw wounds. One wound was so deep of a cut that the bone was visible. She also had two broken fingers.
The doctors were not able to stitch up the wounds because they were not sure if the animal had rabies or not. The wounds were washed out, and DeDe was sent home.
Just 24 hours later, she was back at the hospital and got a call that the animal was rabid, so she began the vaccinations immediately.
Fast-forward two weeks, and DeDe is still more than sore. She got her last rabies vaccination June 22 and had surgery on her hand that afternoon.
The surgery was to repair some of the nerves and possibly some of the tendons in her hand to try to get them back to fully functional.
Before the surgery, DeDe said, “Right now it hurts too bad to even attempt to drive.”
Because she does not have insurance, DeDe’s cousin started a Fundly page to help raise money for both her vaccinations and surgery on her hand. The reaction has been astonishing, with there being more than $32,000 raised to date.
“It’s great to see how people care,” said DeDe.
It’s been quite a journey up to this point, and her recovery continues.
“I’ve seen bobcats walk by when we were out hunting several times over the years, and all I’m thinking is, ‘That is the most beautiful animal that there is,’” said DeDe. “To have one attack you is mind-blowing.”