By Bob Zache
Published: Wednesday, April 11, 2007 12:47 PM CDT
Family and friends were enjoying an Easter picnic Sunday afternoon up Russell Gulch when a nine-year-old girl was attacked by a rabid bob cat.
Lorissa Fletcher was walking by the stables on her grandparent's ranch when the 20-pound cat leaped on her back. Saul Nieto of Globe, a family friend attending the picnic, was by the stables and ran to the girl's aid. He grabbed the cat and pulled it off the girl, then as he held it down, another friend, J.R. Granger, ran over and killed the cat, slitting its throat.
The incident occurred at 2:50 p.m. Sunday as about 15 family members and friends of Dale and Cindy Fletcher, who own the ranch, were enjoying their picnic. The ranch is located up Russell Gulch about five miles past the end of the pavement at Bechtel Tract.
Lydia Nieto, who was there with her husband, said they hadn't had their Easter egg hunt yet, and waited until about 6 p.m. when Lorissa returned from Cobre
Valley Community Hospital so she could be there. She was treated for bites on her back and arm and for lacerations from the cat's claws.
The Gila County Sheriff's Office, County Rabies Control and Arizona Game and Fish personnel responded quickly, Nieto said.
All three people involved, Lorissa, Saul Nieto and Granger, will have to undergo the required series rabies shots. CVCH had enough serum on hand to treat Lorissa, but Nieto and Granger were having to wait until more could be transported from other medical facilities.
A representtive of Arizona Game and Fish, which took the animal for testing, said it tested positive for rabies but as of Monday they were still waiting for test results to determine which strain of rabies it was; two strains are common in Arizona, grey fox and bat, he said, and it affects the type of serum administered.