A public alert has been issued in Ladysmith after a jogger came face-to-face with a cougar stalking a dog on a popular hiking trail.

Marty Steen was running on the south side of the Holland Creek trail just before 10 a.m. Monday when he passed two women walking a dog.

That's when he heard the distressed yelps of another dog up ahead and went to investigate.

"I went around a blind corner and there was a big cougar chasing a dog towards me," he said. "They both stopped within five feet from me."

Steen said the off-leash dog took the opportunity to run past him to its owners while the big cat sized him up for a moment before turning tail.

"The cougar just stopped, looked at me, turned around and walked back up the trail," he said.

While Steen said he's seen cougars from afar in the area before, he's never come so close to one – and that's what might have helped save the dog's life.

"I'd say within seconds away from that dog being mauled. Maybe the right place, right time," he said. "I'm thankful the dog lives another day for sure."

Steen said he reported the encounter to local RCMP and the BC Conservation Officer Service.

The Town of Ladysmith has since issued a public alert on its social media accounts, asking people to use "extreme caution" when hiking on trails.

BC Conservation encourages anyone who experiences a human-wildlife interaction to report it to their hotline at 1-877-952-7277.