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'They really got me,' 80-year-old woman attacked by turkeys in Cambridge

Woman attacked by turkeys in Cambridge
Woman attacked by turkeys in Cambridge 02:39

CAMBRIDGE - A pair of pesky turkeys bit an 80-year-old woman in Cambridge. She fled through a break in traffic to escape them. 

"All that was going through my head was do I try to cross the street? Can I avoid the traffic?" questioned Jeannette Atkinson. "I didn't think I could run faster than the turkeys, or I was afraid I would trip on the sidewalk." 

Atkinson was walking down Sparks Street when she spotted the gobbling duo. The two turkeys came from behind a car and stood on either side of her. They trailed her until she swung her purse at them. This happened six to seven times before one of the turkeys pecked her thigh. 

"I looked down, and when I saw blood coming through my slacks, I said whoops they really got me," said Atkinson. "I did call the doctor later that day, and the office said go get a tetanus shot, which I got." 

Jeannette Atkinson CBS Boston

Fearing further attacks, Atkinson bolted across a busy street during a lull in traffic. As cars came through, they separated her from the turkeys. She posted her experience on social media. It led to a few suggestions from neighbors.

"The suggestion I liked the best was to take an umbrella, and don't use it to poke them or anything, but to open the umbrella. The turkeys will think you're a dominant male," laughed Atkinson, adding that her grandchildren told her she went viral. She experienced her first, large social media encounter, "They were right! As the responses came in, I wanted people to be sympathetic and to like me."

The Cambridge Animal Commission suggests residents use loud noises, bright lights, umbrellas, or a hose to deter turkeys from attacking you. Atkinson says she may bring a water gun next time she's on a stroll.

Neighborhood nature hasn't been kind to the Atkinson's. Jeanette's husband Charlie nearly died four times while battling the West Nile virus from a mosquito bite in their backyard. He was in a on a respirator for 400 days, and at one point was paralyzed.

"Jeanette has been my caregiver, and saved my life more than once," says Charlie, joking that he wasn't there when the attack happened. "I was relieved to find that she was still frisky." 

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