Cougar attack: Dog mauled in Colorado

BOULDER, Colo. — Pete Sheinbaum says that if he hadn't walked out
to his back yard at the exact time he did, Sam, his family's
7-year-old yellow Lab, probably would have been killed by the
mountain lion that pounced on it.

The cougar attacked the dog Wednesday night at Sheinbaum's home in

Sheinbaum, 37, said Sam doesn't usually bark, so when his longtime
companion howled for several minutes, he went outside to investigate.

"I walked out the back door and at the moment I went outside, the
mountain lion went onto the lawn,'' he said. "It was sort of
stalking, moving slowly toward Sam.''

The frightened homeowner said he yelled as loud as he could to try
to scare off the feline, but the cat grabbed hold of Sam and started
rolling violently on the ground with the dog's neck locked in its

The mountain lion, which Sheinbaum estimates weighed 150 pounds,
easily overpowered his 70-pound Lab.

Sheinbaum said he ran toward the wrestling animals, still yelling.
"I guess my yelling was enough to make it let go,'' he recalled.
"It went off into the wooded area; I could see my dog was limping and
starting to bleed.''

As the mountain lion receded into the thick brush surrounding the
property, Sheinbaum said he grabbed Sam and another of his dogs that
had come out to investigate and told his wife, who is seven months
pregnant, to close up the house.

The couple rushed Sam to an emergency veterinary hospital, where he
was treated for puncture wounds and bruises to his throat, neck and
lower back.

"If I'd gotten out there five or 10 seconds later, there was no
way the dog would have survived,'' Sheinbaum said, relieved that vets
said Sam will be OK.

"He'll survive it, but he'll be housebound for a while.''
Sheinbaum said the incident was the second time he and Sam have
squared off with a mountain lion. The pair bumped into one about four
years ago while hiking, he said. The animal stared them down but
didn't attack.

"I guess Sam has used two of his nine lives,'' Sheinbaum said.
He and his wife called state and city wildlife officials after the
attack, who warned them to trim the tall, open grass surrounding their
property because such conditions make ideal hunting ground for
mountain lions.

Jennifer Churchill, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Division of
Wildlife, said that this week's attack was the first reported in the
area in several months, but it is not unusual.

"Mountain lions are active year-round,'' Churchill said. "It's
not unnatural at all for lions to go after people's pets. We just want
people to be aware they are out there, and for them to do what they
can to keep their pets safe.''

She suggests that homeowners in the foothills and mountain areas
keep their pets indoors at night, or in outdoor kennels that are
completely enclosed. Homeowners can also use motion-sensing lights to
help scare off wildlife after dark.

Churchill said wildlife officers will consider setting traps for
the mountain lion that attacked Sam, if there are other reported
incidents that lead officials to think the cougar is a serious threat.