Victoria man saves dog from cougar attack near Ucluelet

A tourist shot and killed a cougar that attacked his dog on Salmon Beach Thursday night.

Shawn Hanson, a 38 year-old Victoria local, had just returned from a fishing trip on Thursday when he came face to face with the cougar around 4 p.m.

Hanson told the Westerly News he had brought a salmon to the cleaning table outside his friends’ cabin when his dog Bailey, a one-year-old miniature dachshund, was grabbed.  

“As soon as I put the salmon down, a cougar whipped out of the bushes from about 15 feet away and snatched her,” he said.

“I’ve encountered wildlife quite a bit but never anything like that…I didn’t know really what was going on I thought it might have been another dog that was attacking her because I just caught a glimpse out of the corner of my eye and then it buggered off into the bushes.”

He said he had no time to think before chasing after the animal.

“I just started screaming…and booked it straight into the bush full-bore,” he said.

He said he chased the cougar about 20 feet into the thick brush before it slowed and he was able to grab a hold of it.

“I grabbed on to its rear end with one hand and then reached up and grabbed my dog with the other and when I had a grip on the dog I reached back and punched the cougar in the face and at that point it dropped the dog,” he said.

“I gave it a good sock in the face…it gave it a pretty good stunning and it opened its mouth and dropped the dog.”

Hanson said he cautiously carried Bailey out of the bush away from the cougar.

“I wasn’t sure if it was going to start slashing at me or anything like that,” he said.

When he returned to his campsite, Hanson grabbed his shotgun and headed back into the bush to make sure the cougar had left and was not preparing to return.

“It was standing pretty much right where I’d hit it and it was looking at me. I stood there for maybe 5 to 7 seconds and then it took one or two little pounces towards me perked its ears up and started walking towards me…I fired a warning shot. It didn’t even care it just sat right there looking at me,” he said.

“At that point it was between 10 to 15 feet away and I just made a judgement call and had to put it down…It started lunging and coming towards me and at that point I was just like ‘OK, this thing is obviously a problem.’”

He said he immediately reported the incident to local police and the BC Conservation Officer Service and that the cougar was small and appeared malnourished.

“It was obviously really hungry,” he said. “It was pretty scrawny, skin and bones, and its hair was pretty shabby so it hadn’t been getting the nutrition it needed; he was pretty ballsy to come out and grab my dog and then actually come towards me.”

Bailey was taken to a veterinary hospital in Port Alberni on Friday where she was treated for puncture wounds and a minor neck injury.

“She’s fine,” Hanson said. “Luckily all the stars aligned and everything worked out…It’s very, very, lucky that nothing happened to her.”

He said the experience has not scared him off visiting Ucluelet again but noted he and his friends plan to keep their dogs leashed from now on.

Read more in the July 8 print edition of the Westerly News.  

Andrew.bailey@westerlynews.ca