An 83-year-old Largo man said he broke his back, needed 19 stitches in his leg and was hospitalized for 16 days after being attacked by a raccoon on his front driveway earlier this month.
"I never was afraid of a coon," said Robert Burris. "Never heard of one charging you or biting you."
Burris said it was about 6 a.m. on Oct. 4, when the attack happened. The Navy Veteran had gone outside to pick up his newspaper, when he noticed two raccoons nearby.
"I wanted to get them out of there. So, I just stomped my foot," Burris said. "Well, I stomped my foot and... the last one turned around and looked at me and here he come. I said, ‘oh no... I’m going to have to give you a football kick.’”
Burris said his kick missed the raccoon, he fell down and blacked out. The veteran said he does not remember the raccoon mauling his left leg. Burris' wife said she called 911.
"I heard him yell and I got up and came into the kitchen," said Bea Burris, 75. "He is standing there with blood flowing out of his shoe."
Bea said her husband's left leg needed 19 stitches and he broke a bone in his lower spine.
"I just wouldn’t leave him, I was scared to death that it would be the last time that I saw him," she said. "He spent at least four days in the ICU with it because of all the rabies shots and all the antibiotics and the pain pills that they gave him."
Burris said he wasn't afraid of raccoons before but now has a healthy respect for the animal. Looking back on the attack, the Largo man said one of the raccoons may've been carrying a baby on its back and that could be what triggered the attack.
"One of them had a black patch on the back like it was carrying a baby or something," he said. "They got their place. I’m not against a raccoon but hey, don’t feed them."
Jeffrey McChesney with Truly Nolen has been a pest expert in Pinellas County for 20 years and said he was shocked by the attack.
"I’ve never ever heard of such a thing here in Pinellas County of actually being attacked by raccoons," he said. "I’m really glad you’re okay."
McChesny said he had done some pest control work for the Burris' and when he found out about the raccoon attack he offered to pay for an animal trapper to catch it.
"We are not licensed animal trappers," he said. "However, we did contact one of our business affiliates that’s going to come out here and take care of this for them.”
"Thank you, very much," Burris said.
Burris said his back still hurts but he can get around with a walker. The Veteran was released from the hospital last Tuesday and is recovering at his Largo home.