The Lauderhill Fire-Rescue Department said an 85-year-old woman was seriously injured in an animal attack possibly by a bobcat Friday morning.
The incident occurred in the area of 6080 Northwest 44th Street. The woman suffered puncture wounds to the face and her arm, as well as a mauled wrist and hand.
"The bobcat attacked her and bit off her finger and her head was all in blood. And on her leg, but she couldn't talk much because she was shaking," said Veronica Wong, a neighbor.
Officials said the woman was out for an early morning walk with her husband, Rupert Fray, when the bobcat lunged toward her.
"She don't know where it arrived from, it just came out and attacked her," said Howard Fray, the victim's brother-in-law. "She's talking now and she's moving around in pain."
Rupert Fray rushed to his wife's side when the attack initially happened. The 71-year-old apparently fell and broke his hip trying to help her.
"They are in pain, a lot of pain, my brother cannot move at all, he can't help himself," said Howard Fray.
Lauderhill Fire Rescue officials said the unidentified woman was taken to Broward Health Medical Center. Her husband was also hospitalized.
Fire rescue officials said the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission was contacted to investigate.
"The FWC is aware of a report of a bobcat injuring a woman in Broward County. Public safety is paramount to the FWC and staff are investigating the incident. At this time, no additional information is available," FWC said in a statement.
Bobcats – usually tan to yellowish-brown with dark brown or black streaks – are about twice the size of a domestic cat, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said.
"Obviously public safety is paramount here, and it’s currently under investigation so we’re trying to find out as much information as we can,” said Officer Tyson Matthews with the FWC. “Anything witnesses, tracks, signs, any information that piece together what happened.”
As the investigation continues, the couple's family is rallying around them, praying they recover quickly.
Bobcats are widely distributed throughout Florida, usually in deep forest, swamps and ecological territories in wetlands known as hammock land.
"The bobcat’s ears are pointed with short, black tufts while the tail is short and gives the appearance of being 'bobbed,'" FWC wrote on its website.
"In rural areas, bobcats can range five or six square miles and generally cover their territory in a slow, careful fashion," FWC added. "In urban to suburban areas, the range of territory usually decreases to 1 or 2 miles."
Neighbors say a bobcat was known to live in one of the trees and another was caught on the property two years ago. Officials haven't been able to confirm that information, but are continuing to investigate.