On Oct. 22, Mary Carr’s two dogs, Casey and JoJo were attacked by a juvenile cougar on her property on Takala Road. Carr and a friend intervened right as the cougar was poised over Casey.
“The cougar was scared off when they saw a person, and heard us calling for Casey,” Carr said.
Carr rushed the dogs to Chase River Animal Hospital. One was treated for relatively minor wounds, but the other had to be treated at Boundary Bay Veterinary Specialty Hospital in Vancouver. It underwent an eight-hour surgery to remove a bone fragment from its brain. One of its eyes was removed as well.
“I thought Casey was dead, and we were lucky that JoJo wasn’t, but when she showed signs of life we just went for it. It’s been a surprise for everybody, even the vets, they don’t know of any dogs that have survived a cougar attack,” Carr said.
The Carrs are ecstatic that Casey is expected to recover; however, the family incurred $30,000 in vet bills for her life-saving care.
“We racked up our credit cards to the limit to the point that when we were coming back from Langley… we realized we didn’t account for the ferry trip back and we needed money for the ferries,” Carr said. “It was only $90, but we limited out our accounts. We scraped together whatever we could just to get on the ferry.”
A GoFundMe was set up by the Carr family to cover a portion of the expenses. As of Wednesday, Nov. 11, it had reached more than $7,000 of its $10,000 goal.
“It’s getting up there. I was overwhelmed by the response. We’ve been getting donations from all over the world… Dog lovers from all over the world are seeing this, and they’ve been very supportive. It’s been heartwarming to see,” Carr said.
Conservation officer Robin Sano was called out to destroy the cougar and said once cougars pose a threat to humans, the B.C. Conservation Officer Service has little choice but to shoot them. The Conservation Officer Service says it only destroys animals when they pose a risk to public safety.
“Because of the nature of the injuries on the animals, we determined it was in the best interest of public safety to hunt down that cat.”
Due to the rare nature of cougar attacks, Sano said that precautions like keeping animals under supervision in a fenced-in area and keeping animals on a leash can prevent cougar attacks.
“From a safety perspective there’s a few things: people should avoid walking alone and should make noise when they’re walking. Pets should always be on leash and in control in the wilderness. A lot of our sightings are early morning, at dawn, or at dusk. So, avoid hiking or using trails with poor sight lines at dawn and dusk when the dangerous predators are most active,” Sano said. “If you encounter a cougar, keep calm, never run. If you have small children pick them up. Make yourself look as big as possible, and slowly back away while keeping in the cougar’s view.”
Sano suggests carrying an air horn or a bear spray scare away predators; however, he said that clapping, making yourself large, and throwing rocks have proven to be the most effective methods of deterring predators in his experience.
Cougars’ predominant food source is deer which are abundant on Vancouver Island. As long as their food source remains intact, cougars should pose little risk to humans and their pets, COs say.
Sano said that the attack on Casey and JoJo was a rare and isolated incident.
“Cougars are very reclusive, they generally don’t want to be involved with people … but people need to remember we are in cougar and bear country.”