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5/14/2012 7:51:00 AM
A story to tell the grandkids
Rabid mountain lion in attack mode no match for Chino Valley man and his frying pan
Courtesy photo
Brandon Arnold and his dog Apollo saved each otherís life when a rabid lion attacked.
Courtesy photo
Brandon Arnold and his dog Apollo saved each otherís life when a rabid lion attacked.

Joanna Dodder Nellans
Special to the Review

If someone told you they killed a rabid mountain lion with a frying pan, would you believe it?

Chino Valley resident Brandon Arnold has such a story, and he has witnesses to prove it.

Arnold, 24, his girlfriend Tessa Gerdes and seven of their Chino Valley friends, including three children, were camping May 4 at a remote spot on the Tonto National Forest, near the Verde River off Bloody Basin Road, when the story of a lifetime unfolded.

They were getting ready to make breakfast at about 6:45 a.m. when a large animal jumped out of the bushes onto the back of Arnold's dog Apollo, a 90-pound lab-pit bull mix.

"It was hard to tell what it was when it jumped out of there covered with grass and smelling like a skunk," Arnold's friend Donald Jones said. "I thought it was somebody's dog, so I was just pissed off somebody brought a mean dog to camp."

Jones grabbed the neck of both the animals to try to pull them apart.

That's when they all figured out the other animal wasn't a dog.

Jones let go real fast.

"I started screaming at the top of my lungs, 'Holy (bleep), it's a mountain lion!'" Arnold recalled.

The lion ran into the mesquite bushes and Apollo ran after it while the men frantically looked for the nearest weapon. Jones grabbed a camping table and Arnold grabbed a 14-inch cast-iron skillet heating up on the propane stove. Arnold got to the lion and dog fight first and did what he had to do to save Apollo.

"The first time I had a clear shot I just swung the pan and hit him right on the head," Arnold said. "It was like a cartoon - he just kind of stopped and I hit him again. He got stiff and fell over."

He hit it several more times, then another friend shot it a couple of times just to make sure it was dead.

Figuring only a rabid lion would act like that, they contacted the Arizona Game and Fish Department. The positive rabies results came back Monday.

Amazingly, no one besides Apollo was scratched, or they'd have to get expensive and painful rabies shots. Apollo already had his rabies shots. He suffered gashes and scratches but they weren't life-threatening. He has to stay in quarantine at home for 45 days.

"Everybody was lucky," Jones said. "Even the dog was lucky. We'll never win the lottery because we used up all our luck right there."

The group continued their camping weekend, although they moved to a site with fewer bushes around it.

They sat down and started talking about what just happened.

"We all figured when we went back, nobody was going to believe us," Arnold related. "Man, it was the craziest thing I ever experienced."

Arnold is sheepish about his heroics, saying Apollo is his baby and he didn't want him to die.

"It was the adrenaline," he said. "I'm not a badass or anything."

Jones can't wait to tell his grandkids the story.

"They won't believe me," he said.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, October 26, 2013
Article comment by: Dave Hoffman

Practice what you preach. You're living somewhere where animals used to live and took over their environment. Next time your outside go to the forest or a known animal habitat and sacrifice yourself. You'd feel a lot better and I know I would.

Posted: Friday, October 25, 2013
Article comment by: AZ Buckeye

Best story I've read here all year! Sorry, I have to say if you can kill a rabid mountain lion with a skillet you just might be a bad a**. Of course, tag teaming with a 90 pounds of man's best friend is always an edge... LOL

Posted: Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Article comment by: Rabies Not Curable

Stewart rabies is not curable in animals once it is active. It is terminal and terrible the mountain lion was put out of it's misery. Google rabies and learn what you are talking about. And you are wrong on so many levels.

Posted: Monday, October 21, 2013
Article comment by: mandala rain

Greatest. Story. Ever.

Posted: Friday, May 25, 2012
Article comment by: Jennifer Ferrara

I have a Lab- Staffordshire Terrier mix, as well. He has the greatest temperament. We love our pets they're man's best friend. I would have done the same!

Posted: Monday, May 21, 2012
Article comment by: Stewart_is Stupid

Stewie, so the right to be somewhere is based on who was there first? Do you mean the mountain lion itself was there first? Or mountain lions were first to the North American continent? Or that mountain lions were first in the evolutionary chain?

Whatever the case, how do you know it was there first? And are you the first (whatever that means) to be wherever you currently are? If not--if anything (alive I guess) was there before you and you displaced it, then your existence is "wrong on so many levels"--whatever that means.

Left wing idiot drivel.

Posted: Thursday, May 17, 2012
Article comment by: laura b

stewart, let's say your dog contracted rabies. you had a friend and his dog over to your house. your dog attacked your friend's dog. should your friend just sit back and let your dog kill his dog because it's not his home and it is the attacking dog's home?

Posted: Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Article comment by: Lorne Arc

Nice job dude. If a rabid animal got after my dog and all I had was chopsticks, then I'd get chop suey all over it.

Posted: Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Article comment by: pluggin pluggin

... that's it so wrong in so many ways??? ... if the thing attacks kill it!!!

Posted: Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Article comment by: Mark M

Stewart, Completely apart from the "right to life" argument of a wild animal that attacks your or a family member the overarching fact is no, the mountain lion *isn't* just doing "it's thing".

It had rabies. That's a fatal disease and causes extreme pain and derangement on the way to death. Your comment would be laughable if it didn't come across as sincere. ..which makes it just foolish.

Posted: Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Article comment by: Stewart Warner

so the mountain lion is in its natural space doing its normal thing of hunting animals and the guy beats it over the head and then shoots it.
it doesnt matter if it was ill the fact is that animals were here before us you just dont that. that is wrong on so many levels.

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