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5/12/2012 12:01:00 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 other’s life when a rabid lion attacked.
Courtesy photo
Brandon Arnold and his dog Apollo saved each other’s life when a rabid lion attacked.

Joanna Dodder Nellans
The Daily Courier

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, May 26, 2012
Article comment by: Dirk Diggler

The NFPA is on the phone with repubs.

Posted: Monday, May 21, 2012
Article comment by: T Fal

See? Real men don't need guns.

Posted: Monday, May 21, 2012
Article comment by: Skillet McWhooping

Skillets, the new assault weapon. It's black, it has a protruding grip, and it will destroy society as we know it!

haha, well done Haus, you got in there and saved your dogs life. Way to get it done.

Posted: Monday, May 21, 2012
Article comment by: Bruce Carter

I am looking for an ultra lightweight 12" frying pan constructed from a high-tech polymer that I can wear crossdraw during bowhunting season...does Ruger or S&W make one?

Posted: Thursday, May 17, 2012
Article comment by: Yukon Jack


There is no legitimate need for frying pans!

Posted: Thursday, May 17, 2012
Article comment by: Brian Boru

I always carry a frying pan in the woods. Neither man nor beast dares mess with me.

Posted: Thursday, May 17, 2012
Article comment by: Very Interesting

I find it very interesting that get real... calls me ignorant when he can't seem to understand that my comment was written tongue in cheek. So, who's ignorant?

Then, Mean People chimes in bemoaning the death of the mountain lion. Get real...

Posted: Thursday, May 17, 2012
Article comment by: Steve Parker

What concerns me is that this event may encourage those who cook on cast iron to bring more of it into the woods. :-)

Those darn "dutch oven" types turn camping into a sedentary activity, and I applaud the mountain lion for getting everyone to "feel the burn". Seriously, though, glad to see everyone is OK. Poor mountain lion would have died anyway. Brandon did a great job of saving a pal. And vice versa. You guys are great.

Posted: Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Article comment by: Tree Hugger

Yo, people, when you're camping in the woods and a rabid mountain lion comes charging out of the woods at your campsite and dog, let us know how peacefully talking him out of tearing apart the campsite and giving everyone rabies goes. It isn't the animal's fault it had rabies, but given the circumstances, this guy is a hero who knows how many people could have gotten hurt.

Posted: Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Article comment by: Jake L

The golf course mountain lion life was taken last year by senseless means and unjustifiably for human liability reasons.
This rabid mountain lion was taken justifiably, and done to save lives.
There is a big distinction!

A rabid animal will be aggressive, a non rabid animal will be elusive.
In our region, besides a bear with rabies, the mountain lion is the second worst to encounter with rabies.
Its a good thing this group put the lion down before he hurt up the rest of em'.

Posted: Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Article comment by: Mean People

What did a Mountain Lion ever do to all you posters on here??? Why make such nasty remarks about an innocent animal that was only acting that way because of rabies???? And what makes a dog more important than a mountain lion anyway?? It's always what humans deem more important in their eyes, in this case the dog. The humans were in the lion's territory, but kill it no matter what. Funny how when there's an article on here about a gruesome murder committed by a human, there are never sick comments made about them. The prisons are full of dangerous criminals, but kill those evil mountain lions (and other wild animals).
People are so narrow minded it's pitiful.

Posted: Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Article comment by: wildlife defender

RE: Bob Squanto, my comment was not meant to be a "rant", just an informative and true statement of the way things are on this planet. All the latest scientific studies show that the human population is using up 1.5 times the actual natural resources that Mother Earth can provide in a given year. What happens when we run out of those resources for own species, even though most other species will be gone or dying off at an unprecedented rate? We will go extinct as well. Basically, the human species is breeding itself to (a slow process of) extinction, unless all world leaders do something about it very soon.

Posted: Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Article comment by: Bob Squanto

Re: Wildlife Defender...I agree with most of what you said, however, to get into a rant about overpopulation is thoughtless and silly...if you're really that concerned about people living while animals are used to achieve that, why don't you "leave" the earth and it will be less populated...isn't that what you want?

Posted: Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Article comment by: aaron t

the NFPA (National Frying Pan Association) says the Frying Pans dont kill, people kill.

Posted: Monday, May 14, 2012
Article comment by: Coyote Contraire™

Alan and Ryan,
Yeah, after reading smith ankle Davidson's thing a bunch of times and then commenting on it two days ago, I keep going back and re-reading it, too. I'll stick with what I originally said: "...if one only takes the time to see it."

Posted: Monday, May 14, 2012
Article comment by: Alan Whitney

OK, I keep going back to that first post...

After reading the comment by Ryan Jensen, I'm thinkin' there just might be more to this than meets the eye...

Posted: Sunday, May 13, 2012
Article comment by: Ryan Jensen

Everybody stop what you’re doing and scroll all the way back to the very first comment posted under this story...the one by “smith ankle.”

Read it.

I’m not exactly clear what this guy is talking about but it is sheer SW poetry and I hope he posts much, much more.

I’m not kidding or making fun...go read it...and Billy Davidson, please post more.

PS...Billy....if you are already known and other posters here paste me for “coming late to the party,” please tell me where I can find more of your work.

- Ryan

Posted: Sunday, May 13, 2012
Article comment by: wildlife defender

Re: get real. A very intelligent comment.Maybe the dog should had not chased the cat,and possibly the incident would have been over, as it is better to avoid a confrontation( or try not to continue with the pursuit of a fleeing wild anima)l. Fortunately,in this case,everyone and the dog are basically OK. Killing the animal turned out to be the right thing to do. I as proud US veteran and a defender of wildlife,believe that all creatures have a right to life, and there should be no "sport" or trophy killing (to bolster a weak ego). Hunting for sustenance is what God had planned. In this case the man did what he had to do. I am glad he and his family and dog are OK. When I hike in the wild to do photography, I always carry a big cannister of bear spray. In all the years and times in the wild, including Yellowstone, hiking the back country by myself, I NEVER had to use it. Just a note, healthy wild animals are scared of humans (why shouldn't they be, when so many have been hunted to near extinction levels). This mtn lion was obviously rabid, otherwise, it would NEVER have approached a group of people and a large dog. It would have been a shame if the killed lion was in fact healthy. There are to few of these beautiful animals left and they have no place to go thanks to human encroachment and greed, and unsustainable overpopulation of Mother Earth.

Posted: Sunday, May 13, 2012
Article comment by: Ban Skillets For The Children!

Frying Pans Kill! Ban them now before more get hurt!

Posted: Saturday, May 12, 2012
Article comment by: Marianne Elizabeth Vangalio

A person can contract rabies from bat guano ~ so please please Mr. Arnold reconsider treatment.

Posted: Saturday, May 12, 2012
Article comment by: I Agree

I agree with Alan Whitney about getting a rabies shot.


Rabies can’t go through unbroken skin. People can get rabies only via a bite from a rabid animal or possibly through scratches, abrasions, open wounds, or mucous membranes in contact with saliva or brain tissue from a rabid animal.

Please don't take a chance.

Posted: Saturday, May 12, 2012
Article comment by: get real...

Very Interesting: What a very uninteresting comment. It just shows your ignorance more than anything. As an "animal lover", if I found myself in the same situation, I would have bashed the brains of that particular animal, too.

Posted: Saturday, May 12, 2012
Article comment by: Coyote Contraire™

Nicely written piece!

This story illustrates the main reason I carry in the wild. My dog would think a mountain lion would be a piece of cake. He's arrogant like that.

smith ankle Davidson,
Alan Whitney is right: There's great wisdom, insight and clarity in what you write, if one only takes the time to see it.

Really very serious story, but seriously hard not to have visions of Wily Coyote with the BLANG! of the frying pan.

Posted: Saturday, May 12, 2012
Article comment by: get real...

Damn man, you and your dog threaded the needle taking on a rabid mountain lion. No offense, but most people would first off think that breaking up "two" 90 pound dogs in a fight is nuts. Yet, that probably made the difference with freeing your dog, who gave you enough time to grab a well-seasoned weapon and put an end to the craziness. If you hadn't acted, I'm not sure how the outcome could have improved a whole lot more. You and your dog are courageous and blessed.

Now, don't let it all go to your head. Sit with it and take what you need from that experience to be a better man, whatever that means to you. You have proven to have a heart of a lion, who can intuitively act for your advantage. Be sure to temper that power with humility and the wisdom to know when and how to act, even with the most basic mundane tasks.

Yeah, I know it all sounds a bit esoteric, just make sure your mind and heart act as one. An experience like this is intense because it rips your worldview in a moment's time. Peace.

Posted: Saturday, May 12, 2012
Article comment by: sam iam

Who's the girl sitting in the backround ?

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