Mary Padres threw open the sliding door of her estate in La Verne on Friday night and saw a mountain lion staring at her.
It was “literally right in front of me, looking at me,” Padres recalled.
Rocky, the youngest and oldest of her two rescue dogs, immediately rushed into battle.
A seven-year-old shepherd weighing about 30 pounds attacked the big cat “mainly to drive him out of our territory,” Padres said.
The creatures, mismatched in size and strength, melted into the mantle of the night.
When Rocky returned more than half an hour later, he was in bad shape.
“He had injuries all over his body,” Padres, 44, said of the puppy she believed had a pit bull.
The punctured tooth on his head extended to the skull, indicating that the lion may have grabbed the dog’s head with its jaws, Padres said. There were bite marks and scratches on the dog’s body.
While searching for Rocky that tortured night, Padres said she heard heavy footsteps and breaking branches – and what sounded like a mountain lion was dragging a dog. Finally she heard lighter footsteps approaching.
“It kind of collapsed in our arms,” said Padres, who was at home with her husband and three children.
The family urgently took Rocky to the vet, where he had at least 30 stitches. The account came out for $ 2,500.
Although Rocky is on the mend, the Padres said she still worries about him.
He didn’t eat dog food on Wednesday morning.
His medicine could upset his stomach, so she cooked him fresh meat.
The local police arrived that morning to discuss the possibility of posting signs along the trails in the area.
A lion, possibly the same one, was spotted Tuesday morning, and lions have previously been seen in the foothills.
Wildlife officials have determined the dog triggered the contact, Tim Daley, a spokesman for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, said in an email.
Mountain lions generally don’t attack dogs, but conflicts sometimes occur when dogs are left unprotected overnight, according to Rebecca Barbosa, a regional biologist with the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
“If the dog is aggressive towards the mountain lion, this is normal and expected behavior to protect the mountain lion,” Barbosa said in an email.
Government wildlife officials have no plans to hunt down the puma or take additional action, which they say is typical in these cases.
Barbosa explained, “Instead, we are focusing on educating residents on how to prevent future incidents.”
Pets should be kept indoors, along with food and water, especially at night when mountain lions are hunting.
Deer are the main prey for lions, so if deer are common, they should also be kept aside, she said.
More than half of California is mountain lion trampling areas, according to government conservation agencies.
In a backyard nestled against the side of a hill, Padres and her family have met bears, deer, coyotes and lynxes for the roughly seven years they have lived in the area.
Rocky and Zoey, another family dog, quickly sound the alarm, as do the dogs in neighboring yards.
“When there is something in the backyard, you can hear the dogs,” Padres said. “They have a different bark, for example, a different sound and a different urgency – you know something is wrong.”