If a human or animal is infected by rabies, the virus first enters the Central Nervous System before inflaming the brain. This inflammation invokes bouts of mania and galvanizes animals to attack anything within sight.
This was the situation a group of campers faced in the fall of 2004. The four campers were woken at their cabin in Northern California by a fight between their collie and a mountain lion. To scare off the mountain lion, they hastily built a fire outside.
The mountain lion disappeared and it seemed like they were safe until the lion charged out from underneath the cabin and attacked Kathleen Strehl. Mountain lions aren’t usually overtly aggressive against people, but later tests revealed this one was infected with the rabies virus. Animals with rabies are extremely vicious and voraciously persistent.
With the 60-pound beast mauling Strehl, her husband Chuck Strehl and Troy Winslow wrestled the cat off her.
This is the part of the story where having a knife handy prevented the situation from getting uglier.
As the three wrestled with the mountain lion, Robin Winslow ran into the cabin and grabbed a double-pronged, 12-inch serrated kitchen knife, according to the Los Angeles Times. While the men held down the writhing beast, she stabbed it repeatedly until the animal had finally died.
Troy Winslow lost his thumb and Kathleen Strehl suffered a 4-inch puncture in her forearm, but for the most part everyone survived relatively unharmed.
Although the knife Robin Winslow used wasn’t a survival knife or even one designed specifically for camping, the fact that there was a knife readily available made the difference between a man losing his thumb and a man losing his life. Rabid mountain lions are vicious and have massive claws, so no amount of manhandling or punches would have stopped the cat until one or all of the people were killed.
This is yet another classic example of how knives save lives.