A Pescadero family had a very rude awakening early Monday morning when a mountain lion came into their home and took the dog.
A woman reported that she and her child were sleeping in a bedroom with their 15 lb. Portuguese Podengo at the foot of the bed and the dog started barking aggressively at 3 a.m., according to the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office.
They had left the French doors slightly ajar to give the dog outside access, and the woman saw the shadow of an animal enter the room, take the small dog from the bed and leave, deputies reported. Upon searching for the dog with a flashlight, the woman found large wet paw prints at the bedroom’s entrance and immediately called 911.
Deputies combing the area found paw prints similar to a mountain lion and notified the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
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Sheriff’s spokesman Detective Sal Zuno told the Mercury News that the incident was “very rare,” as mountain lions tend to stay away from homes.
“The family is really shaken up by this,” Zuno told the Mercury News.
“I think the two most important pieces of information that folks need is to know are that an event like this is exceedingly rare and unlikely,” Veronica Yovovich, wildlife conflict specialist with the Mountain Lion Foundation told The Sacramento Bee.
Yovovich advised that “the best thing they can do to keep their pets or livestock safe in mountain lion country is to put them in a fully enclosed structure, an enclosure with four walls, a sturdy roof, and a door that they shut each and every night from dusk to dawn. Keeping pets and livestock in a fenced pen is not effective as mountain lions are skilled climbers and can scale nearly any kind of fence.”
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service reports that mountain lions can be found anywhere there are deer and are often seen along the thick riparian habitat of the Sacramento River. If you’re in mountain lion country, secure your doors and windows. The state Department of Fish and Wildlife offers some tips on identifying mountain lion tracks, limiting encounters and staying safe on its website.