A Colorado man is warning other pet owners to be aware of the risks and dangers faced when living among mountain lions after fighting one off to save his dog from a brutal attack.
“Wildlife is something that’s been in our backyard forever. Knowing that, every morning I open the door and take a pretty high-powered flashlight and kind of scan the hill up above us to see if I can catch the reflection of some eyeballs staring back at us,” Estes Park, Colorado man Gene Whannel told KDVR.
On an early morning last week, Whannel scanned the area looking for wildlife, but the coast seemed clear. So, believing it was safe, he let his 9-year old Boxer, Sadie outside. Moments later, he heard Sadie whimper.
“I got the light on her, saw that she was in a wrestling match with something. From a distance I couldn’t tell what it was but my suspicion was a mountain lion,” Whannel recalled.
Without a second thought, Whannel took off toward his beloved pup, grabbing the only weapon he could find—a small wooden property marker—along the way.
“I picked that up, hit the mountain lion once and it kind of made eye contact with me. I took another whack at it and hit it in the face. Then the mountain lion released Sadie and ran the other way.”
When the mountain lion released its grip on Sadie, the dog was seriously injured but still able to walk. Whannel rushed her to a veterinarian where she underwent 3 hours of surgery. Sadie ultimately lost an eye and received more than 70 stitches to wounds on her face, head, and upper body. But, despite her injuries, Sadie’s in good spirits and on her way to recovery.
Whannel says he’ll never let Sadie out off leash again, disappointed that he hadn’t taken better precautions that day. Colorado Parks and Wildlife encourages pet owners to keep animals on a leash at all times and avoid walking them between dusk and dawn, when mountain lions are the most active.