Dog loses eye, needs surgery after cougar attack on Vancouver Island

Dog loses eye, needs surgery after cougar attack on Vancouver Island
A Vancouver Island woman says her dog, Oakey, is on the road to recovery after being attacked by a cougar near Port Hardy, B.C. last month. (Jessica Shaw)

A Vancouver Island woman says her dog is recovering after being attacked by a cougar last month.

Jessica Shaw says the attack happened while hiking with a friend near Port Hardy on Feb. 24. She says her dog Oakey was running ahead of them when they heard “barking and commotion and then shrieking.”

They ran ahead and found a cougar trying to carry the 14-pound dog up a tree.

“It didn’t quite compute what was happening,” Shaw said. “I couldn’t understand what was going on until I finally realized that a cougar was trying to take my dog up the tree.”

On the cougar’s third attempt to get up the tree, it dropped Oakey.

Shaw said she quickly grabbed a bloodied Oakey and ran away. The local veterinarian’s office was closed, so she drove Oakey to Comox to see an on-call vet, who determined Oakey suffered skull fractures and would lose his left eye.

The next morning, they drove to Victoria for tests, and it was determined the one-and-a-half-year-old dog would need surgery.

“There was a lot of risks associated and so I was very nervous about that,” Shaw said.

Oakey has had to undergo brain surgery as a result of the attack. (Jessica Shaw)

After getting a second opinion, Oakey underwent brain surgery.

The B.C. Conservation Office Service confirmed it received a report of a dog being seriously injured along a wilderness trail system near Port Hardy.

Conservation officers attended the area and posted signs at both trail access points.

Attempts to locate the cougar would have been too difficult given the size of the wilderness area and the delay in reporting the attack, the COS said.

COS recommends keeping dogs on a leash in wilderness locations to avoid conflicts with wildlife.

Shaw said following the procedure, Oakey has been on the road to recovery.

“He’s so strong,” she said. “He hasn’t cried or whimpered one time. He’s been so tough and he’s recovering really, really well.”

Shaw’s friends are helping raise money to cover medical bills, which so far total around $13,000.

COS also advises people to call their RAPP line at 1-877-952-7277 in case of encounters with wildlife.

This report was initially published on CBC News.

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