Keremeos dog survives cougar attack

Fourteen-year-old dog tangles with cougar and lives near Keremeos.

A photo taken of Hemi

A photo taken of Hemi

His name sure fits him.

At 14, Hemi the husky, malamute, lab cross tangled with a cougar and lived.

He certainly proved he’s strong like a Hemi.

Hemi is one of three dogs of owner Laurie Lion and her husband who live on a rural property on River Road just outside of Keremeos.

On January 8, Hemi decided to run-off during his last outside time of the evening.

“It was about 11 p.m. and I was just about to head to bed and he ran-off. I was annoyed but I left the back door open so he could get into the mudroom and went to bed,” Lion said.

A few hours later her husband heard Hemi in the back room and let him in and he curled up into his dog bed on the floor of the couple’s bedroom.

“He didn’t see any blood or anything and the dog just went to sleep. In the morning Mike said Hemi is bleeding and that’s when we first knew something happened.”

The Lion’s rushed Hemi to the South Valley Veterinary Hospital where he was found to have two giant gashes on his back and several puncture wounds.

“The gashes were big enough for the vet to open them up and put his hand in there,” said Lion. “They were on an angle that the vet said were consistent with it being a cougar. He treed the cougar and the wounds are from the cougar swiping down.Hemi is lucky because none of his muscles were cut. If they were he wouldn’t have made it back to the house.”

Hemi received 47 stitches and had several drains put in. He’s on a variety of antibiotics and has unfortunately pulled out his stitches several times although at this point his wounds aren’t infected.

“He’s very lucky,” she said.

Lion said there was no evidence that the incident happened on her property. She’s heard rumours that her husband went out and shot the cougar but said that isn’t true.

“He did not do that. I just want to set that straight,” she said. “And I want to suggest that other people keep their animals leashed. The large cats are down because their normal prey is burrowing in because of the cold weather, that’s what I’vebeen told.”

Many large cats including bobcats, lynx and cougars have been spotted in the Lower Simillkameen and other communities.

Conservation officers in Penticton euthanized three juvenile cougars on Monday because they did not respond to hazing techniques and there was no other place to relocate them. If they were put back up in the mountains they would starve.

Jim Beck, a sergeant with the Conservation Officer Service, said putting the animals down wasn’t something they wanted to do, but the cougars’ behaviour was becoming more bold over the weekend, after the animals had spent Friday afternoon under a deck near Columbia Elementary school.

“We located the kill that we thought were keeping them in this area,” said Beck. “It was located right in somebody’s yard down in an excavated hole for footings.”

That kill was removed in hopes of encouraging the family to move on, but the cougars continued to stay in the east Penticton area.

“Our concerns for public safety were definitely ramped up due to activity level,” said Beck. “We pushed her out once and then she made a stalking attempt on someone’s dog.