School counsellors are making themselves available to students in Lake Cowichan this week in the wake of a cougar attack on a Palsson Elementary student.

Seven-year-old Zach Bromley was mauled by a cougar while playing in his fort in the backyard of his Point Ideal Drive home Friday afternoon.

“There’s a fence, which is kind of just a wire mesh fence, and he was looking through it and he thought this was just a dog approaching him,” Zach’s father, Kevin Bromley, told CTV News. “And then this thing charged him.”

The attack left Zach in serious condition, with gashes on his head, neck and arms.

“The student is resting and healing at home and the Palsson community is wishing for a speedy recovery,” says a statement on the Palsson Parents community Facebook page.

Palsson Elementary principal Fiona Somerville told CTV News the school was proactive in its response to helping students who may be traumatized by the incident on Monday.

"Extra counselling services were brought into the school to assist students, and the principal made personal visits to each class to hold class meetings to provide students with the opportunity to process the event and offer additional support," Somerville said.

"The focus of the school continues to be on ensuring our students feel safe and supported and to prepare them for the return of their classmate. Additional supports will continue to be in place throughout the week and on an as-needed basis."

Lake Cowichan Secondary School issued a statement on Friday saying it was also bringing in additional support staff for its students.

“As our community comes to grips with the cougar attack that happened earlier today, we wanted to reach out and ensure parents and caregivers that we are in the process of confirming extra supports for our children on Monday morning when they return to school,” the statementl said.

“Community counsellors, school counsellors, staff and admin are ready to welcome our students back and help them with the emotions and questions that this type of event surely brings to the surface. Our thoughts tonight are with the family.”

Kevin Bromley said he is grateful to the doctors, nurses, and paramedics who have helped his son survive the attack.

“The staff at the hospital were just so empathetic and tender and professional and I was so impressed,” he said. “I was really touched.”

Two cougars, believed to have been separated from their mother, were found in the area after the attack and killed by conservation officers.

A necropsy on the two cougars has been performed. The young male cats are presumed to be siblings, approximately six to seven months old, very thin and in poor health.

 “We don’t know why they were starving, but it seems quite probable that they’ve been without a mother for a number of months,” said conservation officer Ben York. 

“It was as simple as just an opportunistic thing and a bit of desperation on their part.”

Eight people were killed and 94 injured by cougars in B.C. between 1900 through 2018, according to B.C. government statistics.