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Owner’s noisy charge saves 14-pound dog from B.C. cougar attack

Oakey recovering from surgery to remove left eye following emergency surgery hours away from home

A 14-pound Vancouver Island 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.

Small, but tough as nails, little Oakey was dropped from the big cat’s jaws thanks a noisy charge by Jessica Shaw and her friend during a routine walk near Port Hardy 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 15-20 feet 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 tree just as I got to the bottom of the tree where my dog was crumpled on the ground covered in blood.”

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

“We were still about 20-25 minutes away from the car and as I carried my pup my friend was calling the vet,” she said, adding, “Unfortunately the local vet hospital was closed by then and we were directed to Nanaimo Emergency Veterinary Hospital. We got to the car and I immediately began driving down island, I begged the dispatch to please see if they could find something closer as he was so small and had sustained serious injuries.”

The dispatch advised her she could try to reach an on-call vet in Comox — a three-hour drive from Port Hardy — and then provided their 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.”

By midnight, it was determined Oakey had sustained a bite through his left eye that would need to be removed, several puncture wounds to his face, and he had neck and 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 14lb dog survived such a serious attack.”

Shaw said conservation office was called and advised 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 in the past 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 it’s natural inhabitants and I will always have Oakey on leash in the future.”

A friend of hers has set up a Go Fund Me page, as Oakey’s vet bills came in over $13,000.

If you are interested in donating to help fund Oakey’s surgeries, please go to or google “Help Oakey” on Go Fund Me.

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

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Tyson Whitney

About the Author: Tyson Whitney

I have been working in the community newspaper business for nearly a decade, all of those years with Black Press Media.
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