THUNDER BAY - A Thunder Bay pet owner had a frightening encounter with a lynx that left her dog injured and requiring veterinary care.
Nowell Sleep says her 14-pound Maltipoo suffered numerous puncture wounds after the dog was unexpectedly attacked outside the Brookside Manor condominium on North Algoma Street on Monday night.
"We were just walking back into the condo, and I actually had my hand on the door. I felt a tug on the leash. I turned around and I couldn't even see Molly. There was this animal totally covering her," Sleep said in an interview Wednesday.
Sleep acted instinctively to save her pet, not knowing yet that she was dealing with a lynx.
"I was screaming and there was nobody around. I picked it up underneath the ribs, underneath the front legs, and I just shook it until it let Molly go. Then I threw it, quickly got inside the door and pulled it shut."
Sleep said she was "just shaking" at that point. The lynx in the meantime had walked back to within inches of the glass door, with its gaze fixed on her and her dog.
At a veterinary clinic a short time after, Molly's head was shaved to reveal eight puncture wounds. She also had a swollen and discoloured eye.
"The vet said she was very lucky," Sleep said, noting that the lynx was about two-and-a-half times the size of her dog.
Reflecting on the incident later, she said she realized how fortunate it was that she had her pet on a leash at the time, and that it survived.
"I didn't see anything. I didn't hear anything. It must have just pounced on Molly. If I hadn't felt the tug, it could have just grabbed Molly and just run."
She's advising other pet owners in the area to be "hyper-vigilant."
Sleep said there were fresh paw prints in the snow outside the condo building on Tuesday. She's since bought a can of animal deterrent spray as an extra precaution.
Not far away from the scene of the attack, another Thunder Bay woman on late Tuesday afternoon encountered what may be the same lynx on Farrand Street, not far from Margaret Street.
Alexa Legree told tbnewswatch.com said the animal was right in front of her, so she stopped her car to record video as it ambled into a driveway.
"There was actually a lady trying to get into the house. And she noticed it too because it was walking towards her. I was in complete shock that there was a lynx near my house. I have two dogs."
Legree said she will not be leaving her labradoodles outside on their own.
There have been multiple lynx sightings reported on the north side of the city over the past several days. Legree has seen photos posted by other individuals, and believes it is the same lynx that she encountered.
A Thunder Bay Police spokesperson said the first point of contact about a wild animal should ordinarily be the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. However, she said people should notify police if an animal is behaving aggressively.
Police "will provide a primary response for incidents that pose an immediate threat to human safety," a police news release stated.
The MNRF has provided information on how to avoid conflicts with lynx, bobcats and cougars and what do to if these animals are encountered.