A Ladysmith resident is happy to have her Romeo back after the 14-year-old deaf and half blind dog was dragged off into the night by an unknown animal.
He was later found three kilometres away on a stranger’s doorstep.
On August 24, Kirsten Smith and her husband David were awoken around 3 a.m. by the sounds of their maltipoo Romeo barking and running outside their Strang Road home.
That was proceeded by a growl, and two high pitched yelps followed by dead silence from the yard.
“By the time we got outside with flashlights and a baseball bat, they were both gone,” she said.
Seeing no blood or signs of dragging, Smith deduced that Romeo had been knocked unconscious and carried off into the bushes.
Distraught, she contacted wildlife conservation at 8 a.m. and said she surrendered to the idea Romeo was gone.
“It was the worst nine hours of my life,” she said.
“I started packing up all of his stuff and putting it away.”
By a pleasant twist of fate, resident Kristen King found Romeo curled up at the top of her porch when she came home at noon that day to let her own dog out.
“It was scared and I didn’t see anything wrong with it other than it was very old and very frightened,” she said.
King called the Town of Ladysmith immediately and reported Romeo using his licensing tag.
Fifteen minutes later, he was back in Smith’s arms and off to the vet. Romeo had suffered a puncture wound in his left hindquarter and paw, as well as damage to his front gums. One of his front canine teeth later came out.
“We’re still shaking our heads as to how he survived,” Smith said.
Despite the incident, Romeo is now eating, jumping, playing and back to his frisky self.
“He’s doing everything he should be doing,” Smith said.
Stuart Bates, conservation officer for Ministry of Environment said while the area lends itself to a cougar attack on a household pet, Romeo’s injuries tell a different story.
“Initially, based on her description, the fact that the dog was nowhere to be found, I did tell her it was possible that it was a cougar, but in talking with the veterinarian that examined the dog, the wounds were not consistent with that of a cougar, and were very consistent of that of a raccoon,” Bates said. “There were no wounds around the neck or the head which is typical of a cougar, and in my opinion, a cougar that grabs a nine-pound dog… I can’t see a dog in that condition and that size surviving a cougar attack.”
Smith said she is still not 100 per cent convinced that Romeo’s assailant wasn’t a cougar. “I’m not discounting that it could have been a raccoon, but I don’t know how a raccoon could get him that far,” Smith said.
“Raccoon paw prints I have seen around here, and those wet tracks on my deck were definitely not raccoon tracks.”
Bates explained that a cougar’s typical target includes the raccoon, which is often found in the average backyard.
Cougar attacks on household pets usually occur when the cat goes into a yard looking for a raccoon.
“People don’t need to worry as much, because humans don’t meet what we call their prey profile. We’re bi-pedal and they’re looking for a four-legged creature,” Bates said. “It does happen, but it is very, very rare.”
All wildlife sightings, particularly cougars, should be reported to the conservation hotline at 1-877-954-7277.
“It allows us to monitor, be it a bear or a cougar, what it’s doing, where it’s going and if it’s behavior is changing,” Bates said. “People should always be vigilant. Ladysmith is a unique community with the wildlife corridors that we have around all the creeks.”