Eva, the 2.5-year-old Belgian Malinois, sustained several injuries protecting her owner from the attack. She is now on her way to recovery.
Content Warning: Some readers may find the images disturbing.
Eva was on a walk with her pet parent Erin Wilson, 24, down a hiking trail to the Trinity River in remote Northern California when they were confronted by a mountain lion. The wild animal scratched Wilson. Eva's canine instincts kicked in and she tackled the cougar. The two animals tussled until the owner and a kind stranger stepped in. The dog sustained several injuries during the fight but is now on her way to a full recovery. While animal attacks of this nature are uncommon, a game warden from California's Department of Fish and Wildlife cautioned hikers, NPR reports.
This is Eva. She saved her human from a mountain lion. It pounced at them while they were hiking, and Eva fought it off. She’s spent a few days in the hospital, but is expected to make a full recovery and return home tonight. We are proud to award her our highest honor… 15/10 pic.twitter.com/2yA4KntIkZ— WeRateDogs® (@dog_rates) May 19, 2022
"I'm just walking down the slope and the dog had run ahead of me. And I turn around and there's this cat just growling at me and it reaches up and it swipes at me," Wilson shared in an interview with the news outlet. "At first, I was just like, 'Wait, what?' And I think I screamed and I shouted for Eva and she came running." Eva proceeded to tackle the cougar, although he was soon maimed. She continued, "They tussled for a couple of seconds, but he got her pretty quickly." At this point, Wilson also went into fight mode.
"I started picking up rocks and I was bashing in its skull as hard as I could," the 24-year-old revealed. "I didn't even feel it at the time. I knew to choke it, go for its eyes, hurt it." Then, she dashed up the riverbank to her truck, grabbed a crowbar and flagged down a passing motorist for help. When she had returned to the scene, the mountain lion had dragged Eva several yards into the bushes. With help from the motorist, Wilson hollered and hit the lion until it released the dog and retreated. She piled Eva into her pickup and rushed to the vet.
During the car ride to the vet, Eva started convulsing. Her owner stated, "That's when I started really speeding. I definitely passed a bunch of people in double yellows. I did not give a f*ck." Thankfully, Eva did not need surgery. However, she did sustain several severe injuries. Her skull and jaw were fractured and her eye was swollen shut. She might lose sight in her left eye. She is, nonetheless, recovering. The dog spent almost a week recovering at a veterinary clinic and went home on Thursday evening to a new doggie bed and new stuffed animals.
"I'm kind of blaming myself a bit about all this," Wilson confessed. "Because of her, I'm unharmed and because of me, she has two fractures in her skull and she might be blind. I knew Eva was capable of being fierce and protective. I just didn't ever think that she would have to answer the call like that. Just really hug your dogs, people. Hug your pets, hug your family." Eva is a 2.5-year-old Belgian Malinois. The breed is known for its intelligence and agility. In fact, the dogs are often bred for self-defense and police work.
According to Wilson, the mountain lion looked thin, hungry and desperate. She thinks it was hungry as drought conditions make it harder to hunt for deer, its preferred food. While such incidents are rare, Captain Patrick Foy, a game warden with California's Department of Fish and Wildlife, encouraged hikers to proceed with caution when hiking. He said, "The majority of California is mountain lion habitat. But it's really, really uncommon for this to happen. I've seen just a handful over the years, over my career of 25 years. We don't recommend that people change their plans to go out and recreate in the wild."