An animal attack near Nicholson has left a family pet blind in one eye and with serious head injuries.
Steve Skinner is the owner of Keanna, a karelian bear dog, which was attacked by what is suspected to have been a cougar.
Skinner and his wife Melanie, went skiing on Jan. 2 around two in the afternoon behind Nicholson. They went about three kilometres up one of the back roads, when they saw animal carcasses that looked as if they had been dumped just off the road.
Skinner said he had seen carcasses at this site before, but he was not sure what type of animals they were. On the way up, the family dog sniffed the dead animals as they skied by. The dog was doing this again on the way back down the road when the attack happened.
“We turned our back for a second and the dog was gone. We heard her yelping. There was one big yelp and then she went down the bank,” he said.
Skinner said he never saw a cougar but there were drag marks right down the embankment and a vet later thought that the attack was most likely perpetrated by a cougar.
Hearing his dog yelping in pain, Skinner went looking for the animal.
“I took my skis off and followed the drag marks…I pretty much found her because there were crows flying over where she was,” he said. “I found her underneath a log like she had been stuffed in there.”
After helping the animal get out from under the log, Skinner helped her get back up the embankment.
Looking back on the situation, Skinner admitted he was not thinking about the cougar still being in the area but, was very concerned for his family pet of seven years.
Keanna was taken to the Invermere Veterinary Hospital where surgery was performed by Dr. Bruce Thiessen.
“We are trying to do a best guess. Bears are sleeping. Coyotes attack as a pack and there is usually trauma all over the body. This was one bite with a few claw marks on parts of the body. My best guess would be that it was a cougar,” Thiessen said. The doctor confirmed the dog’s skull was fractured in the attack and she lost sight in one of her eyes.
Skinner had a message for people who dump carcasses in areas near paths and roads where families may frequent.
“Don’t dump them there. On the day we were there a family with three kids were not far away from where we were. If a cougar was going after a dog as close as we were to it, then we need to be careful,” he said.