A California hiker narrowly avoided being mauled to death by a mountain lion thanks to her fierce Belgian shepherd, Eva, who suffered serious injuries helping stave off the attack.
‘I will ever be able to live up to how amazing and loyal she is to me,’ the dog’s owner, Erin Wilson, 24, said.
Wilson was hiking with her pet on the Big Bar Pass on May 16 in the rural Trinity River area of Northern California when the wild cat attacked her.
She said that Eva was off-leash a few yards ahead of her when she had just started the hike. Her pickup truck was still in sight on Highway 299 when she was confronted by the growling predator, Wilson told the Sacramento Bee.
It lunged at Wilson, swiping at her left shoulder scratching her through her jacket.
‘I yelled ‘Eva!’ and she came running,’ the 24-year-old hiker said. ‘And she hit the cat really hard.’
Wilson said that the mountain lion appeared to be emaciated, but still out-classed the 55-pound Belgian malinois, who is 2 and half years old.
‘They fought for a couple seconds, and then I heard her start crying,’ Wilson said.
The cougar sunk its fangs into Eva’s head and held on even as Wilson beat it with her fists, rocks, sticks and what ever else she could find. The hiker even tried gouging the cat’s eyes.
The mountain lion fended the owner off with its back paws.
‘They battled for a few moments until I heard her cry,’ Wilson said on the crowd funding site GoFundMe. ‘The cat had her by the left side of her head. For the next several minutes I tried everything I could to free her. ‘
Wilson ran to her car to fetch a tire iron to beat the creature with and flagged down a driver, Sharon Houston.
Houston, a self-described ‘overprepared’ camp counselor said Wilson was ‘pretty scrapped up.’
There were few other drivers on the road and Big Bar is so remote that there is no cell phone service in most area.
Wilson told her that ‘a mountain lion had just attacked her dog and she wanted to know if I had a weapon–which I didn’t other than my little pepper spray,’ Houston told the blog Redheaded Blackbelt.
She said that the frantic dog owner was ‘mad and terrified at the same time’ and holding an extendable baton.
‘She was very determined to stop this mountain lion from attacking her dog so I couldn’t leave her,’ the passerby said.
Erin Wilson, 24, is pictured with her dog Eva before the horrific cougar attack that left the pooch with skull fractures
Valiant Belgian Malinois, Eva, pictured here with her owner Erin Wilson, 24, before both were attacked by a vicious mountain lion in Northern California
‘I think it’s safe to assume that dog probably saved her life,’ Capt. Patrick Foy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife told The Sacramento Bee.
Houston said after more beating on the creature, it let go of the dog and turned its attention back to both women.
The cougar ‘swiped at us and bared its teeth’ Houston told the blog.
‘I opened up my pepper spray and just hosed its face,’ Houston told the blog. ‘It was the longest 5 to 10 seconds…I begged, ‘Please work, please work, please work.”
Aftea blast of chemical mace and ran off.
It was a frantic trip to the vet’s clinic about an hour away, Eva began having convulsing spells half way through the drive.
‘I didn’t think she’d make it every time it started up,’ Wilson said.
The Malinois suffered two skull fractures, a punctured skull cavity and sever swelling around the left eye, which blocks her vision.
‘She is still not out of the woods, she is heavily sedated until we can be sure the pressure in her head is reduced,’ Wilson said. ‘The vet is optimistic.’
Belgian Malinois Eva suffered two skull fractures and punctured sinuses protecting her owner from an attacking mountain lion in Big Bar Pass in Northern California
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife are investigating the attack, collecting DNA samples from the dog’s wounds and will try to catch the cougar, officials said.
Attacks on humans by mountain lions are rare- there have been 20 such incidents in California since 1986, three fatal. Authorities said that if they do catch the animal, it will be put down.
Wilson said that when Eva pulls through she’s going to shower her with gifts, her favorite stuffed toys and a steak dinner.
‘My dog is my hero and I owe her my life,’ she said.