“My dog is my hero, and I owe her my life.”

The common adage is “who saved who?” But after the events on May 16th that led to the death of Eva, a two-year-old Belgian Malinois who passed a month later, for Erin Wilson the answer was clear. 

Back in May, Erin Wilson and her young dog Eva were taking a gentle hike near Northern California’s Trinity River when a mountain lion charged at Wilson, “ripping through her jacket and scratching her shoulder”, Wilson told The Sacramento Bee. 

“I yelled ‘Eva!’ and she came running,” Wilson said of her 55-pound dog, who was walking ahead of her off-leash at the time of the attack. “And she hit that cat really hard.”

After a quick dust-up, the mountain cat latched onto Eva’s skull at which point, Erin intervened punching and hitting the Cali lion with sticks and rocks, anything to get the animal to release its jaw. Still, the mountain lion refused to let go of Eva so Wilson ran to her car to grab a tire iron where she ran into good samaritan Sharon Houston. Together with a four-foot PVC pipe and pepper spray, Houston and Wilson attacked the mountain lion, who had pulled Eva off the trail. Once Houston sprayed the cat with pepper spray, it finally loosened its grip and ran away as Eva escaped to Wilson’s pickup truck.

“At first, I was like, ‘Wow, she’s OK,’ But when I looked at her closer, I realized she had a couple of puncture wounds on her face. And she just had a lot of blood coming out of her mouth.”

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Eva was a brave dog: GoFundMe

Wilson drove Eva to the closest emergency vet clinic, which was 90 minutes away. On the way, Eva experienced convulsions after suffering two fractures to her skull, a puncture in the sinus cavity, and severe swelling around her left eye. Initially vets were “optimistic” because of Eva’s young age and top shape and she did improve.

But on Wednesday June 8th, Eva succumbed to her injuries.

Wilson shared the heartbreaking news on the GoFundMe account created to assist with Eva’s medical expenses following the attack. 

“We said goodbye at 9:20 this morning,” she added on Instagram. “There were no changes to her condition overnight. Goodbye, my beautiful sweet girl. You are my world, my light, my best friend. The world is a much darker place.” 

The California Mountain Lion is a proud symbol of California and, due to habitat destruction, an endangered and protected species. Regardless, with the human population only increasing, the risk of bumping into a mountain lion along the hiking trails crossing California is almost an absolute. Indeed LA mountain lion P22 has become a local celebrity due to frequent backyard sightings when the feline takes an excursion from their home in Griffith Park.

Cougars are to be protected too, but you don’t want to cross their path: Pexels

The close proximity and important role the mountain lion holds in nature means pet owners have to be extra vigilant for themselves and their pets when visiting the wilds of California. That Eva and the mountain lion tangled and Eva lost her life is an absolute tragedy. And yet, also beautiful it’s own sad way. Eva passed doing what she loved, watching after her human.

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Erin Wilson later shared that funds not used on Eva’s medical bills will go to “Malinois rescues, big cat rescues, and predator management groups.”

“We said goodbye,” she wrote. “We love you Eva. You’re my whole world.”

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