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Cougar Attacks Dog; Vets Seeing Increase

Protect animals by putting bells on them

Postgren Road is a quiet rural lane, yet with the charm of country living comes risk.

Last week, Jerry Stockwell, owner of the Husum Highlands bed and breakfast off Oak Ridge Road north of Husum, discovered first hand that the superb mountain valley he lives in is enjoyed by animals too -- including predators.

On the afternoon of Tuesday, Dec. 14, Stockwell said he went out to his "mud room" to make sure his dogs were in the house. What he found was chilling.

"Ruby, our beagle, was in there, and she had blood all over her," Stockwell said. "There was blood on the wall, and a smear of blood on the floor. I wrapped her in a blanket and zipped her to Craig Vance's office."

Dr. Vance, a veterinarian at Alpine Veterinary Clinic in Bingen, found puncture wounds all over the dog's body. The dog had apparently been the victim of an attack by a cougar.

"It was a good-sized cat," Stockwell explained. "The puncture marks showed where the cat's mouth went over her head and crushed down on her. We almost lost her Wednesday night, but it's starting to look like she's going to be all right."

Stockwell said he couldn't even be sure if this was the first time his dog had been attacked.

"Four or five weeks ago, she had her arm ripped open and the flesh laid back," he recalled. "We don't know what caused it, so this could be the first or second attack."

According to Joyce Schultz, who works at Alpine Veterinary Clinic, there have been several attacks on animals recently.

"We're seeing a few here. There have been six or seven calls since last spring," Schultz said. "Mainly the attacks are on dogs and small farm animals."

Schultz said Alpine had treated a goat, sheep, llama, and several dogs recently.

Stockwell said he was concerned that a cougar could still be in the area.

"My worry is, my wife walks every morning, and the puppies walk with her," he said. "Folks should be really aware. There are three homes on Postgren, and there are a lot of folks on Oak Ridge. These animals forage over a great distance. They have a long range that's their territory."

Adult male cougars weigh an average of 125 pounds, while females average around 100 pounds.

Stockwell said he planned to report the incident to the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW).

"I'll tell them we have a predator attacking domestics," he said. "It bothers me that the snow hasn't hit, and there are more than enough deer, so these cats are not starving to death. There's ample food for animals."

In September, the WDFW Enforcement Division killed a cougar on Acme Road in Snowden that had been suspected of killing six farm animals. That male cat weighed 153 pounds.

WDFW officials reported that the last time a human was killed by a cougar in the state of Washington was in 1927.

To help protect animals, Schultz advised putting bells on farm animals and dogs to make it easier to keep track of where they are.

She offered some other tips as well.

"Check for your animals twice a day, and bring them in at night," she said. "And be very careful with children, especially at dusk and in the evening hours. Cougars are not normally out in the middle of the day."

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