SIMI VALLEY, Calif. -- A Southern California woman punched a mountain lion Thursday and tried to pry its jaws open to save her dog from an attack in her backyard, but the pet was killed, officials said.
The woman suffered a minor cut after the mountain lion attacked her miniature Schnauzer in the city of Simi Valley, police Sgt. Keith Eisenhour told KNBC-TV.
The woman’s name was not released.
"She obviously cared about her dog very much, as all dog owners do," Eisenhour said. "She tried to fend the animal off by punching it, elbowing it and tried to pry its jaws open.”
Police Cmdr. Adam Darough told the Ventura County Star that responding officers saw the mountain lion eating the dog in the backyard but it quickly took off into the hills.
The attack happened about 35 miles (56 kilometers) northeast of downtown Los Angeles in a neighborhood adjacent to wildlands.
It followed a report that another dog was injured by a mountain lion in the same area late Wednesday.
Earlier Wednesday, there were mountain lion sightings in the area that led to a search by police, a Ventura County sheriff’s helicopter and animal control officers.
Nothing was found and police said at the time that it was believed the animal had fled back into the hills.
Many mountain lions in the area and in wildlands to the south are being studied by biologists with the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area to determine how they survive in habitat increasingly fragmented by development and freeways.
Darough said the mountain lion seen Wednesday had a tracking collar but officers could not see if the animal that attacked the dog had a collar.
Ana Beatriz Cholo, a spokeswoman for the national recreation area, told the Star that the animal was not one of the mountain lions being tracked with a working collar but may be an adult female that was living in the area before her collar stopped working.
The National Park Service installed a tracking collar on that female in 2014 when she was 4 or 5 years old and was mostly living around the highest peak in the Santa Susana Mountains. Now, she would be fairly old for a female mountain lion in the wild.