Wild Cougar Approaches A Mom’s Young Daughter Before She’s Forced To Act Fast

Most parents would do anything to protect their children. There have even been crazy cases of mothers exhibiting superhuman strength to save their babies, like lifting the weight of an entire car off of their infant or chasing a rolling shopping cart with impossible speed!

And one Canadian woman was faced with a terrible scenario when a wild cougar came for her young daughter. Feeling that motherhood superpower energize her, she leapt into action right as the cougar closed in on her child.

Squamish, a town in British Columbia north of Vancouver, is generally a peaceful place. This is where Pablo Espinosa, his wife Maureen Lee, seen and their daughter, Maya (below), all lived together.

La Presse

The family loved a local area called Fisherman’s Park. Not far from the Squamish River, it’s a place where anyone can enjoy scenic views, relaxing strolls, and, of course, fishing.

This is where Maureen Lee and her daughter Maya decided to spend their bright and sunny Saturday. The pair was enjoying the warm weather, picking berries from the many trees, when Maureen noticed a particularly juicy looking fruit and turned around to pluck it.

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That’s when she saw it: something strange out of the corner of her eye. At first she couldn’t make out exactly what it was. A dog, perhaps? But then, she turned around.

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The mother spotted any parent’s worst nightmare. She hadn’t seen a dog, rather, it was a wild cougar — and it was in the midst of attacking her 3-year-old daughter!

“All of a sudden it just flew on her, rolled her a couple of times and grabbed her under its belly on the ground like in the fetal position. She was on her back and he had his paws in her head,” the mother recalled.

CBC

In such a terrifying situation, Maureen had no idea what to do. But in a split second that felt like an hour, an idea — no, an instinct — popped into her mind. She acted on it.

Wikipedia

“I just knew I had to react quick, so I just jumped in there and wedged myself between the cougar and her on the ground, and I just got up and threw it off my back and grabbed her and booked it,” she says. But this was far from the end of the story…

CBC

Thankfully, the little girl escaped without any serious wounds, but she wasn’t entirely unscathed. Maya did have puncture marks from the animal’s claws on her left arm and head. The toddler had some interesting remarks to make after the attack.

CBC

According to neighbor Wade Rowland, Maya simply didn’t understand that the feline wasn’t an animal to be messed with. She was confused as to why the creature wouldn’t, in her words, “play nice.”

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Unfortunately, this wasn’t the only close encounter with a cougar by residents in the area. In fact, there have been a total of thirty within only a ten day period. And one Friday was particularly bad…

National Geographic / Drew Rush

On this particular day, there were six attacks in a 24-hour period. Officials knew this data wasn’t adding up to the full picture: These animals are usually peaceful when it came to their interactions with humans.

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See, in North America, fatalities resulting from wild cougar attacks are extremely rare. You are more likely to be killed by a lightning strike, snake bite, or even a bee sting. So why were these felines so bloodthirsty?

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Determined to find answers, a team of five conservation officers, along with two dogs, were sent on a mission to track down the animals in question and figure out why exactly they’d been motivated to hurt the young girl.

Duluth News Tribune

After following the cougar through a few yards, they caught up to her; the feline couldn’t be wrangled, though, and the team was forced to take her our permanently. The question still remained: Why had she committed the crime in the first place?

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After tracking down additional cougars, local officials landed on two different reasons for the brutal attacks, and each conclusion accounted for all the local assaults, not merely the one perpetrated on 3-year-old Maya Espinosa.

CBC

One of the animals experts found was clearly starving, as it had been found emaciated. The creature had been desperate to find something to eat. As for the other?

The Cat Coach

The second cougar killed by authorities had assaulted a human being simply because it was a young and naive baby, making its first attempts at learning how to hunt. The events transpiring were tragic on all accounts.

Pixabay

Friends worried Maya wouldn’t be the same. “She’s very lucky,” commented local official Dave Ritchie. “Hopefully she’ll be surviving and not be too traumatized by it, but it would be a traumatic event for parents and a young child.” However, remarks from the girl herself may suggest she’s not traumatized in the least.

CBC

Maya’s father, Pablo Espinosa, reported that the preschooler didn’t actually seem perturbed by the incident at all. In fact, she was excited to return to school to tell all her little friends about the crazy incident. She never suspected her friend’s could have similar stories.

CBC

In 2014, Chelsi Camp had a lot on her plate, but her entire world revolved around one person: her daughter. Two-year-old Mackenzi was the apple of her mom’s eye, and the two of them went everywhere together.

The Houston mother tried to give Mackenzi the best of everything, though she knew she couldn’t protect her from all the dangers in the world. The girl couldn’t live her life in a bubble; there had to be small risks. One began with a phone call from a friend.

KHOU / Twitter

In 2014, Chelsi got word that a pal of hers was going on vacation and needed a good dog-sitter. Would she be up for it? Well, Chelsi figured it would be a good way to help out her friend and spice up an otherwise ordinary week.

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Because toddlers are in need of endless entertainment, Mackenzi got quite excited when she heard about this new pup. She was a dog lover herself, though this particular variety wasn’t universally appreciated.

Tim Pierce / Flickr

Chelsi’s friend owned a pit bull — a breed unfairly maligned and stereotyped as attack dogs. But the Texas mom had only ever gotten friendly responses from this dog, so she wasn’t the least bit worried.

Hugo A. Quintero G. / Flickr

However, something changed when the pit bull first came in contact with Mackenzi. Its carefree expression gave way to one of concern. The dog tensed up and sniffed the young girl.

The canine then responded with a growl. In hindsight, Chelsi figured that her friend’s pit bull must have smelled her own dog on Mackenzi. But the mom had no time to put that connection together when the animal pounced.

Transforming into an almost unrecognizable beast, the dog went after her two-year-old. This was no rough playing either. Terrified, Chelsi saw that the pit bull was going for the kill.

Its teeth and claws were already all over her screaming daughter, and Chelsi realized she had to shield her little girl. Hoping she wasn’t too late, the mother flung herself on the dog. Chelsi didn’t even have a plan.

Fortunately, that was when instinct took over. To stop the pit bull from mauling her daughter, Chelsi actually shoved her entire fist into the snarling mouth. She barely felt the lacerations on her hands and arms at the time.

Save One Soul Animal Rescue

While wresting the pit bull for control, Chelsi jerked her head toward her daughter. Her face was so torn up, that her own mother could hardly make out her features. She told Mackenzi to lie facedown so she wouldn’t choke on her own blood.

Wikimedia Commons

Still, Chelsi knew that would only buy them a little bit of time. They had to somehow get away from this mad pit bull and contact emergency personnel. The mom had both her hands full, so she got inventive.

Chelsi had to overpower the dog in language that it would understand. So, channeling her inner Mike Tyson, Chelsi lunged forward and sunk her teeth into the canine’s ear. The mother pulled with all of her might.

Mike Tyson / Instagram

Chelsi tore the dog’s ear right off. As the whimpering mongrel retreated, she called 911 and hoped her daughter hadn’t lost too much blood. Both of them, in fact, were in pretty dire shape.

CBC

Mother and daughter underwent emergency surgery. The pit bull went right for Mackenzi’s face, so it took the best doctors to stitch her back up. That brave little girl had weeks of recovery ahead in the ICU.

University of Mississippi

Meanwhile, Chelsi temporarily lost the use of both arms. She said it was tough to not be able to hold her daughter in the hospital, but had no qualms about intervening in the attack. “I would do the same thing with a human being,” she explained.

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Following a number of procedures, Mackenzi finally was ready to go home. Her mom lifted her up for the first time in months, and both of them came away with a greater understanding of how much they needed each other.

Four Legged Friends and Enemies

“She’s a strong little girl and a fighter,” Camp said. “She’s meant to be here.” It was no surprise that she loved her daughter even more, but others were curious how the encounter affected Chelsi’s view of dogs.

Chelsi Corbin / Facebook

Somewhat surprisingly, Chelsi still loves dogs more than ever. Though she would undoubtedly be more careful when bringing Mackenzi around larger dogs, she deemed the attack a freak occurrence. After all, pit bulls are already so misunderstood.

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Thanks to years of hard work, the folks at Rocket Dog Rescue managed to save the lives of over 10,000 animals. They connected pets with families all over San Francisco, though there were two critters the staff weren’t quite as optimistic about.

Sara Abdeltawab

They were an unlikely pair. Merrill, a three-year-old pit bull, dwarfed her best pal Taco, who was a Chihuahua well past his eighth birthday. But they formed a strong bond when they entered the shelter around the same time.

Rocket didn’t know much about their past. For Taco, they guessed that his former owner didn’t want an older dog. As for Merrill, it seemed that a breeder used her to produce a few litters — and left her worse for the wear.

Facebook / Merrill & Taco

She was grappling with an infection and some physical trauma from her last round of deliveries, and these problems weren’t resolving themselves. Rocket team members decided Merrill needed to undergo surgery before her condition grew any worse.

Facebook / Merrill & Taco

The procedure took a fair amount of time, but the veterinarians did well to keep their focus. They stitched Merrill back up and moved her to a quiet room to recover. But they were then distracted by a sound echoing from down the hall.

University of Pennsylvania

It was Taco! The shelter staff reported that he had been whimpering ever since they brought his pit bull pal into surgery. No amount of comforting would make him stop. There was just one option left…

They brought Taco into the recovery room with Merrill, and the two dogs immediately snuggled up together. While having a “friend” visit after surgery certainly broke shelter protocol, the vets figured the dogs were better off together than apart.

Facebook / Merrill & Taco

This turn of events provided a huge moment of clarity for the hard-working caregivers. Taco and Merrill wouldn’t let anything — not even a medical emergency — keep them apart. They couldn’t let one be adopted without the other.

Rocket Dog Rescue

The shelter posted a series of photos of the two pooch pals hanging out and pleaded, “This dynamic duo has lost their family, their home, and now we can’t let them lose each other!” But would it be enough to attract a loving owner?

Facebook / Merrill & Taco

The post gained a ton of attention, as internet users couldn’t get enough of the mismatched friendship. Even so, Rocket couldn’t find anyone in San Francisco who was interested in taking in both dogs.

CBS Pittsburgh

In that moment, the caretakers considered walking back their package pooch deal. Plenty of folks would be interested in taking in a young and newly healthy pit bull, but being attached to an aging chihuahua could have been holding Merrill back.

Facebook / Merill & Taco

However, an email soon arrived from a woman named Jodi. She and her family in San Diego were curious about fostering a couple dogs, and Merrill and Taco seemed like perfect candidates! Rocket packed up the canines for a meeting.

Facebook / Pali Boucher

The introduction couldn’t have gone better. After Jodi and her kids instantly latched onto both the pit bull and Chihuahua, they could hardly wait to get their signatures on the adoption paperwork. Still, the San Diego suburbs would be a huge adjustment.

Facebook / Merrill & Taco

To preserve some semblance of familiarity, the foster family decided to keep both dogs’ names. Jodi’s children painted some custom food bowls to mark the occasion. As the pets settled in, their online fans asked for constant updates on their progress.

Facebook / Merill & Taco

Jodi was happy to oblige. Merrill and Taco posed all over the place for hilarious photos that caused their online profile to boom in popularity. Their owners even made a fan page for the pups — but were afraid to divulge that something was very wrong.

Facebook / Merrill & Taco

Just weeks into his stay, Taco displayed some troubling symptoms. A subsequent vet visit revealed that he had a weak heart and fluid gathering around his lungs. He’d need a heavy dose of medication, though there was no guarantee it would work.

Facebook / Merrill & Taco

Taco’s troubles clearly affected Merrill, but luckily both dogs had a wonderful support system for this health scare. The entire family bonded as they waited to see if the chihuahua’s medicine would save his life.

Facebook / Merill & Taco

Fortunately, the treatment worked! Taco bounced back, though he was never quite as spry as he was in his younger days. He and Merrill befriended a number of neighborhood dogs and enjoyed the SoCal lifestyle.

Facebook / Merrill & Taco

Sadly, Taco passed away in 2018, but he had a rich life. Merrill, sad as she was, continued to be a beacon of light for her new family. She showed them how compassionate pit bulls could be, and they joined the fight to remove the stigma against these dogs.

Facebook / Merrill & Taco

Jodi was glad they weren’t alone in this nationwide struggle. Rescue organization Dallas DogRRR had one mission: find a home for every unwanted, broken, or abandoned dog in the Dallas, Texas, area. Rescuers had seen a lot of dogs through the years—but never a pooch like Pittie.

Dallas DogRRR / Facebook

When Dallas DogRRR rescuers first found the pit bull, she was wandering along a dangerous road in southeast Dallas. Avoiding the cars barreling down the pavement was actually the least of her problems…

Dallas DogRRR Rescue.Rehab.Reform / Facebook

Half-starved, Pittie just looked weak. When rescuers placed some food in a bowl for her, she wasted no time digging in. How long had she been on her own? How long had it been since she’d eaten? Apparently, she’d suffered more than starvation…

Dallas DogRRR Rescue.Rehab.Reform / Facebook

Across her nose, Pittie bore a nasty scrape. This, like her feverish appetite, only presented more questions about this dog’s background. Clearly, she’d been missing the love and care that any pet needed. Then, rescuers noticed something else about her…

Dallas DogRRR Rescue.Rehab.Reform / Facebook

“It looks like she just had puppies,” one of the rescuers commented. “So they were probably taken away from her.” Had this poor mother pit bull lost her chance at rearing her kids? The realization had barely sunk in when rescuers received even more shocking news…

Dallas DogRRR Rescue.Rehab.Reform / Facebook

Having found Pittie near a junkyard, rescuers learned that one of the men working there had seen the pit bull hanging around a certain spot in the back. Was this where she’d left her puppies? Well, not quite…

Dallas DogRRR Rescue.Rehab.Reform / Facebook

The junkyard worker led the rescuers to the back of the lot, where they found a little bundle of fur resting in a patch of dirt in the shade. But it wasn’t a pit bull puppy at all…

Dallas DogRRR Rescue.Rehab.Reform / Facebook

It was a kitten! Rescuers learned that, at just two days old, this little kitty’s mother had abandoned her, possibly because of health defects. Well, guess who’d found her then?

Dallas DogRRR Rescue.Rehab.Reform / Facebook

A new mother herself, Pittie had apparently found the perfect outlet for her untapped maternal instincts! The minute she spotted her adoptive baby, the abandoned pit bull instinctively sniffed and licked the newborn. She’d been doing a lot for the tiny kitten…

Dallas DogRRR Rescue.Rehab.Reform / Facebook

Pittie had been nursing the kitten, providing her the milk she needed to survive in a junkyard. Pittie and Kitty had found each other in their dark times, and rescuers were understandably amazed.

Dallas DogRRR Rescue.Rehab.Reform / Facebook

The rescuers who found Pittie and Kitty brought the pair back to the Dallas Mercy Animal Clinic for inspection, and even veterinarian Dr. Rick Hamlin couldn’t believe the pairing. “Over my 28-year career, I’ve never seen anything like this,” he said.

Mercy Animal Clinic / Facebook

Dr. Hamlin theorized how the two came together: “My best guess is that the mother pit bull had a litter of pups and they died or weaned and she still had milk,” he said. “The pit bull probably found [the abandoned kitten] and took it as her own.”

Mercy Animal Clinic / Facebok

Lucky as this chance pairing was, the rescuers’ timing proved even luckier: Pittie’s milk had run out. She wouldn’t have been able to care for Kitty any longer, meaning the feline wouldn’t have survived had the pair not been found when they were!

Mercy Animal Clinic / Facebook

Not surprisingly, Pittie and Kitty stole the hearts of everyone at the clinic. Unfortunately, Kitty needed a lot of attention. Pressed for time, the clinic found a home that could give the kitten the extra care she needed—though it meant separating her from her adoptive mama.

Dallas DogRRR – Rescue.Rehab.Reform / Facebook

Right away, Pittie hated being without her baby. “When I took Kitty out of the cage, Pittie started howling,” Dr. Hamlin said. “It was the first vocalization she made since she arrived.” Luckily, they weren’t separated for too long…

When caretakers returned Kitty to the clinic the next morning, Pittie, bursting with happiness, “cleaned and cleaned and cleaned her.” At that point, rescuers devised a plan to have Pittie and Kitty adopted as a unit. But then, out of nowhere, tragedy struck.

Mercy Animal Clinic / Facebook

Dr. Hamlin hadn’t noticed it at first, but Kitty suffered from a malformation in her kidneys and bladder—likely the reason her mother abandoned her in the first place. Despite Dr. Hamlin’s efforts, Kitty couldn’t be saved…

Mercy Animal Clinic / Facebook

Kitty passed away before the clinic could find a home for her and Pittie. How Pittie took this development was unknown, but needless to say, the mama pit bull probably noticed her adopted kitten’s absence. Could she ever have a happy life after that?

Though it was without Kitty at her side, Pittie eventually found a forever home where she received all the food and love she could ever want. Her new family already owned a few dogs, too, so Pittie fit right in!

Mercy Animal Clinic / Facebook

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