A Colorado man sprung into action to save his dog from a brutal mountain lion attack.
Gene Whannel told KDVR that he’s used to encountering wildlife as his property is on public land.
Since the area is known for mountain lions, some of which he’s spotted on trail cameras, he typically takes precautions.
“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,” he explained.
When he let out 9-year-old Boxer, Sadie, early one morning, he didn’t notice any signs of trouble until he heard a whimper and realized she was being attacked by a mountain lion.
“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,” he said.
In an attempt to save his dog, Whannel said he searched for a rock or stick to use as a weapon, but all he found was a small wooden property marker.
“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,” he recalled.
Per the outlet, Sadie was badly injured and underwent a three-hour surgery.
While she was able to walk, she lost an eye and got over 70 stitches.
However, she remains in good spirits and is on the road to recovery.
“Considering what she went through, she’s doing fantastic,” said Whannel.
He said he learned his lesson, despite thinking he was taking precautions.
“I’ll never let Sadie out in the yard without a leash. I guess I thought I was taking enough precaution by checking with a flashlight to see if I could see movement.”
Not every pet that encounters a mountain lion is as fortunate as Sadie. A few days after her attack, another dog was killed by a mountain lion, which prompted Colorado Parks and Wildlife to remind people to remain vigilant, keep pets leashed, and avoid taking walks when it gets dark out.
If you encounter a mountain lion, your best course of action is yelling loudly and throwing things at the animal from a safe distance.