Just before the bobcat attacked, the calm subdivision that Happy and Kristi Wade live in in Burgaw, NC was the picture of suburban calm.
Mr Wade carried a pan of brownies and Mrs Wade carried her cat, Caroline Faith, in a porter. It was a Friday morning and they were on their way to a vet in Wilmington, about 25 miles away, to make a routine appointment.
“Good morning,” said Mr. Wade cheerfully to a passing jogger, before noticing, “I have to wash my car.”
Then Mrs. Wade said she heard an angry growl. She thought it was just a neighborhood cat. But it was a mad bobcat crawling out from under a car in the driveway.
“I won’t forget the look in this cat’s eyes anytime soon,” she said in an interview. “It targeted me, and then I ran.”
“Oh my god! Oh my god!” she screamed as the bobcat sunk its teeth into her left hand and then crawled up her back and onto her shoulder.
The attack was captured by the Wades security camera in a video that ricocheted over the internet after Mr Wade shared it with his boss, who shared it with someone else whose nephew put it on TikTok, Ms. Wade said.
The 46-second clip put Mr. Wade’s reaction to his wife’s screams in the spotlight in a split second.
Mr. Wade ran to his wife, pulled the bobcat off her back, and held the animal up with his bare hands as it writhed and growled.
“Oh my god it’s a bobcat!” He screamed.
Then he flung the animal across the lawn.
“Get off! Get off! Get off!” Mr. Wade, who has a concealed carry, screamed before pulling out a pistol. But the bobcat shot back under the car. With a spell, Mr. Wade called out that he would “shoot” the animal and warned the jogger to stay away.
“Danger!” he said. “It’s a bobcat that attacked my wife.”
After the clip ended, Mr. Wade shot the bobcat, as did a deputy sheriff who responded to an emergency call, said Ms. Wade.
The Pender County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that a bobcat was killed on April 9 in the Creekside subdivision in Burgaw. Tests at the North Carolina State Laboratory of Public Health confirmed the animal was rabid, the sheriff’s office said.
Ms. Wade said her husband was not happy to have shot the bobcat. The couple have two cats and a dog and serve on the board of a local humane society, Ms. Wade said.
“We are animal lovers and it was very difficult for my husband to do that,” she said. “It was recharged. He knew he had no choice. “
Ms. Wade later said that she and Mr. Wade learned that the bobcat attacked another neighbor about 10 minutes earlier.
Ms. Wade said she and Mr. Wade went to the emergency room after the attack. She had bite marks on her hand, scratches on her arm, scratch marks on her back and other wounds, she said. Her husband had bite marks on his hand and deep scratches. They both received antibiotics and the rabies vaccine, she said.
Ted Stankowich, a behavioral ecologist who specializes in mammals at California State University in Long Beach, said he was “really shocked” by the video.
Bobcats, who live in most of the United States, typically avoid humans and hunt rodents, rabbits, and reptiles, he said.
“Any rabid animal will be far more aggressive towards humans,” said Dr. Stankowich. “But a normal bobcat doesn’t usually come to such a neighborhood, to a suburb, much less to such a person.”
Ms. Wade said her injuries could have been far worse if her husband hadn’t intervened.
“He saved my life,” she said. “If he hadn’t been there, I don’t know where I would be or what shape I would have been in. I don’t know how I would have fended it off myself.”
Mrs Wade added that she was “not the least bit surprised” that Mr Wade had put himself in danger that morning.
“That’s exactly the kind of person he is,” she said. “We have been married for 30 years. I met him when I was 15 and there was never a doubt in my life how much he loves me and how much he would do for me. “