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'Tough little cookie': Dog survives cougar attack on Vancouver Island

Since the attack, Oakey has had surgery to remove his left eye and to remove three bone fragments from his brain. (GoFundMe) Since the attack, Oakey has had surgery to remove his left eye and to remove three bone fragments from his brain. (GoFundMe)

A 14-pound dog is down an eye but well on the road to recovery after his owner and her friend saved his life in a cougar attack on Vancouver Island.

Small, but tough as nails, little Oakey was dropped from the big cat’s jaws thanks to a noisy charge by Jessica Shaw and her friend during a routine walk near Port Hardy, B.C., on Feb. 24.

Shaw and the friend were out on their usual after-work walk on a trail when disaster struck. Oakey was off-leash and maybe four to six metres ahead of them when “we heard barking and then my dog shrieking and screaming,” she said.

Shaw and her friend started running as fast as they could, screaming at the top of their lungs.

“From a distance I could see a big cougar trying to get up a tree with my dog,” Shaw said.

The cougar attempted to jump up the tree twice unsuccessfully.

“On the third jump he dropped my dog and ran to the top of the tree just as I got to the bottom of the tree where my dog was crumpled on the ground covered in blood,” Shaw said.

From there, Shaw scooped Oakey off the ground and she and her friend took off running.

“We were still about 20 to 25 minutes away from the car and as I carried my pup my friend was calling the vet,” she said.

“Unfortunately the local vet hospital was closed by then and we were directed to Nanaimo Emergency Veterinary Hospital," she added. "I begged the dispatch to please see if they could find something closer as he was so small and had sustained serious injuries.”

The dispatcher advised her she could try to reach an on-call vet in Comox, a three-hour drive from Port Hardy, and then provided the vet's pager number.

“Luckily, the vet in Comox returned my page and agreed to meet us in Comox where we arrived just after 9 p.m.,” Shaw said.

Oakey before the cougar attack. (GoFundMe)

By midnight, it was determined Oakey had sustained a bite through his left eye and several puncture wounds to his face and neck. He also had several skull fractures that required further assessment at the Central Victoria Veterinary Hospital.

Over the course of the last two weeks following the attack, Oakey has had surgery to remove his left eye and had craniotomy surgery to remove three bone fragments from his brain.

“Despite the serious surgeries and injuries, Oakey has been one tough little cookie,” Shaw said. “He never whined or whimpered once. He is still healing but his recovery is going very well and he will adjust to life with one eye in no time. I am so amazed and thrilled that my little 14-pound dog survived such a serious attack.”

Shaw said the conservation office was called and they advised her that although officers were taking the matter very seriously and have posted signs to warn trail users about wildlife activity in the area, “they did not go out to catch the cougar as they have no way of determining if they’ve got the right cat.”

Shaw said she has hiked the trails in town every day with her dog and although they have come across bears before, “I never thought we’d come across a cougar or that it would attack."

"I have the utmost respect for the outdoors and its natural inhabitants and I will always have Oakey on leash in the future,” she said.

A friend has set up a GoFundMe page as Oakey’s vet bills came in at over $13,000.

“I am so appreciative of the all the kind words and sentiments the local people of Port Hardy have sent,” added Shaw. Top Stories

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