Port Moody police are warning pet owners to be vigilant after a cougar attacked and killed a family dog in the early hours of March 10.
The incident occurred at about 12:41 a.m. Wednesday morning as a resident was walking their leashed, 14-pound dog in the Foxwood Drive area of the city.
“A cougar was apparently hiding in some nearby bushes, jumped out and attacked the dog, leaving it with severe injuries,” wrote Port Moody police Sgt. Ian Morrison in a press release.
The owner was left physically unharmed and was able to bring the dog to a veterinary clinic. However, the animal did not survive its injuries.
PMPD officers attended the scene and conducted an “extensive search” for the cougar but did not find it.
Acting Sgt. Alicia Stark of the BC Conservation Officer Service said by Wednesday afternoon she had completed a full investigation, turning up prints and installing a trail camera in the area to monitor the cougar's return.
"We think that the cougar was not expecting the dog and the dog owner to walk by," she said. "That’s what we think triggered this predatory act on a dog."
FOURTH ATTACK ON DOG
This is at least the fourth time a cougar has attacked a pet dog in the Tri-Cities in just over a month. On Feb. 7, a cougar sprung on a small dog along a trail on the west side of Buntzen Lake as hundreds of people were out enjoying the afternoon sunshine. The big cat also dropped the dog after the owner was able to scare it away, but not before severely biting its neck.
In a similar incident only two days later, a man was outside his house in the Nash Drive area of Coquitlam when a cougar snatched one of the family’s small dogs, which again dropped the pet when challenged.
And in an even more dramatic attack, a cougar leapt over a fence in a Burke Mountain family’s yard to snatch a pug puppy only a few feet away from a mother’s feet. The big cat disappeared with the pet.
When asked whether the animal involved in the most recent attack in Port Moody was connected to the previous incidents in the Tri-Cities, acting Sgt. Stark said: "There’s so much distance between all of them, that I have no reason to believe that it’s related to the family unit attack dogs."
The BCCOS officer did note, however, that while small dogs match the profile of cougars' prey, the string of attacks was not a normal trend.
"We’ve definitely seen an increase in incidents this year," she said. "I don’t know the exact science behind it."
In Port Coquitlam, a juvenile cougar was later shot after reportedly stalking a teenager, and two schools near the Coquitlam Crunch were recently put under "hold and secure” measures after a cougar was sighted nearby.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU SEE A COUGAR
The BC Conservation Officer Service warns roaming pets are "easy prey for cougars." The service advises to leash pets at all times and bring them in at night. Feeding pets or birds outside your home can also prompt an encounter, as small animals attracted by such food, like squirrels or raccoons, are common prey for cougars.
If you do encounter a cougar, the best course of action is to stay calm, pick up any children immediately, back away slowly and make sure the big cat has an avenue of escape, advises the BCCOS. As you back away, make yourself look as large as possible and keep the cougar in front of you at all times.
Running or turning your back on a cougar could provoke an attack. If it comes closer, be aggressive: maintain eye contact, show your teeth and make loud noises. Arm yourself with a stick or rock. Should a cougar attack, fight back, focusing on its face and eyes to convince it you're not prey.
If any resident sees a cougar in Port Moody, they are asked to call PMPD at 911 if the situation rises to an emergency and the BC Conservation Officer’s RAPP line at 1 877 952-7277.