BIG BAR, Calif. (AP) — A woman who was attacked by a mountain lion in northern California says her dog jumped to her defense and was seriously injured protecting her.
“I can never live up to his incredibleness and his loyalty to me,” Erin Wilson told the Sacramento Bee on Tuesday.
Wilson, 24, lives in rural Trinity County, about four hours northwest of Sacramento. On Monday, she headed to the Trinity River near unincorporated Big Bar for an afternoon walk with Eva, her 2.5-year-old Belgian Malinois.
Wilson was on a path with Eva a few feet ahead of her when a mountain lion swooped in and struck her, scraping Wilson’s left shoulder through his jacket, she said.
“I shouted ‘Eva!’ and she came running,” Wilson said. “And she hit that cat real hard.”
The dog weighs 55 pounds (25 kilograms) and was outclassed by the cougar but fought hard.
“They fought for a few seconds and then I heard her start crying,” Wilson said.
The cougar bit the dog’s head and wouldn’t let go, even when Wilson attacked the animal with rocks, sticks and his fists, tried to choke it and gouge out its eyes.
The cat tried to push her away by scratching her with his hind paws. Wilson said she ran to her van, grabbed a tire iron and flagged down a passing car.
This driver, Sharon Houston, told the Bee that she grabbed a long length of PVC pipe and pepper spray. Together the women began beating the lion, which had dragged the dog off the track.
Houston eventually doused the animal with pepper spray and it fled, Houston said.
Wilson was treated for non-life-threatening scrapes, scratches and bruises.
Wilson’s husband, Connor Kenny, told SFGATE that Eva had two skull fractures, a perforated sinus cavity and severe damage to her left eye. The dog had convulsions on the way to the vet but stabilized overnight.
“We hope she pulls through,” Kenny wrote. “She’s a fighter, clearly.”
The dog was in monitored condition, a statement from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said.
Wildlife officers have taken samples of the wounds for DNA analysis and authorities will attempt to trap the cougar, the department said.
Mountain lion attacks on humans are rare, but in such cases the animals are usually killed if captured.
Meanwhile, Wilson said she hopes Eva recovers. She started a GoFundMe page to raise money for vet bills, and she’s already planning how to thank Eva: with new stuffed toys and a steak dinner.