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Cougar catches dog on leash in Hollywood Hills

A quiet Friday evening in the Hollywood Hills turned into a tragedy for Piper, 9, a blue merle/Chihuahua mix, as she wandered – on a leash – behind her dog walker, only to be snatched and mutilated to death by a cougar.

Video from early Friday evening in a residential area near Hollywood Reservoir – near Creston and Durand Drives – shows a large collared cougar emerging from the brush, crawling along the road and then crouching down upon seeing the small step.

Seconds later, the recording shows the mountain lion leaping from behind and snatching Piper backwards.

“I felt the tug and I heard Piper’s scream,” the dog-walking man told KTLA-TV.

He didn’t want his name or face revealed.

“It was like a two or three second struggle,” he told the TV station. “He had Piper in his mouth. He didn’t growl at all. I didn’t even hear it. I never had any luck.

No one has identified the puma for sure, but it’s likely P-22, an 11-year-old cat who calls Griffith Park home. Biologists trapped the puma in 2012, attached it to a lightweight radio tracking collar and gave it the name P-22.

The cougar is widely known in the area, periodically being spotted by home security cameras or appearing in people’s driveways, as it did last month in Los Feliz.

Piper’s owner, Daniel Jimenez, told KTLA he was devastated by the loss of Piper, whom he and his wife adopted in 2014.

“He was just the nicest dog,” he told the news channel.

He was informed of the incident via text message and at first thought it was a joke.

The text read: “The cougar attacked and carried off your dog. You killed your dog,” he told KTLA. “It turned out to be real and we were just shocked.”

Whether the mountain lion is P-22 or not, “we need to be more aware that a lion doesn’t know the boundaries of safe or dangerous territory, or where it should or shouldn’t go,” said Zara McDonald, a cougar biologist executive director of the Bay Area Puma Project.

“Small dogs look like the smaller prey they catch all the time in their habitat, so it’s not particularly surprising,” she said. She said dog walkers should be particularly vigilant when walking small dogs from dusk until dawn – when cougars tend to hunt.

“Same old story, but every year we are moving further away from balanced ecosystems and further and further towards human-modified systems…which puts lions at a much greater risk of repercussions for not having received the memo and to just be who they naturally are,” she said. “It’s important to get it right now with our pets so that we don’t usually bring pumas close together and a small human ends up being preyed upon.”

California Daily Newspapers

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