A Labrador retriever in Cedar Hills, Utah, fought off a mountain lion on July 19 in order to protect its family, according to KSLTV News. The dog suffered serious injuries but survived the encounter.
Ella, a 7-year-old yellow Lab, noticed the mountain lion while Crystal Michaelis and her children were outside playing in the backyard. Michaelis didn’t see the mountain lion, but she noticed that Ella was acting odd and looking back and forth from the kids to where the mountain lion was hiding.
“She kept looking at the kids and then quickly looking back,” Michaelis explained. “She was just being very cautious and my daughter thought it was very concerning.”
Eventually, Michaelis took her kids inside. When they came back to the patio door they found Ella with severe cuts on her head, face, legs, tongue, and neck. “We opened the back door and found Ella just bloodied. There was blood all over the door and all over the patio,” Michaelis said.
The family didn’t see the fight occur, but officers from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources found mountain lion tracks leading to the scene where the fight took place. Wildlife officials explained that it was possible that the mountain lion had its eyes on some nearby goats in a neighbor’s yard and wandered a little too close to the Michaelis’ house.
Utah DWR hasn’t reported any additional sightings of the mountain lion, but has alerted residents and asked them to be on alert and to stay safe. “They’ve also seen deer wandering through this area and since deer are kind of the main food source for cougars, they will often follow where deer go,” DWR public information officer Faith Jolley explained.
Ella sustained more than 30 bites in total, and they were all from the shoulders up. “Which means she never let down and stayed in that protective stance and defended it,” Michaelis told reporters. Despite her injuries, Ella is expected to make a full recovery.
Dogs vs. Lions
Unfortunately, not all mountain lion attacks have such happy endings. Earlier this spring, a Belgian Malinois named Eva defended her owner when they were ambushed while walking through a picnic area in California. The lion pounced on Eva’s owner, mauling her shoulder. That’s when the dog jumped on the lion and a knock-down-drag-out fight ensued. Eva suffered two fractures to her skull, a puncture into the sinus cavity and severe swelling around her left eye. She eventually died from her wounds.
“I think it’s safe to assume that dog probably saved her life,” CDFW’s Patrick Foy said in an interview with the Sacramento Bee.