Family dog dies protecting kids from mountain lion in Colorado. ‘True loving warrior’

·3 min read

An afternoon playing in the yard ended in anguish for one Colorado family, but had it not been for their dog ⁠— a pit bull/Chihuahua mix named Lady ⁠— “it would’ve been a completely different type of tragedy,” a mother told McClatchy News.

On June 14, Virginia Havens’ four kids, ages 11, 8, 7 and 4, were playing on a playset in their yard in Idaho Springs, a mountain town about 30 miles west of Denver, when Lady, who always kept a close eye on them, started to bark, Havens told McClatchy News.

Havens’ husband heard the commotion, saw a mountain lion coming into the yard and took the kids into the house.

Lady, a 3-year-old dog who weighed just 50 pounds, was starting to pace in a semi-circle around the mountain lion, which Havens guessed was more than five times her weight.

Lady charged the mountain lion, and “that’s when the grappling started.,” Havens said.

While the fight was taking place outside, Havens said her children were frantic inside the house.

“They’re just really upset, crying, streaming, praying,” she said.

Havens and her husband were tearing open windows, throwing anything they could find at the lion to try to scare it away from Lady who was “whimpering and crying out,” Havens said.

Havens then called 911, and when first responders arrived, they managed to scare the mountain lion away with bean bag guns.

Lady was still alive, but she was bloody, breathing heavily and had holes in her skull, Havens said.

Havens and her husband sped to the animal hospital where veterinarians advised that it would be in Lady’s best interest to put her down.

“Her injuries were just too severe,” Havens said. “I just kissed her and thanked her, and we let her go.”

Lady was “a bloody mess” after her fight with a mountain lion, Virginia Havens said. She had labored breathing, a swollen eye and holes in her skull.
Lady was “a bloody mess” after her fight with a mountain lion, Virginia Havens said. She had labored breathing, a swollen eye and holes in her skull.

Many residents of Idaho Springs still remember a mountain lion that killed an 18-year-old jogger in 1991, Mayor Chuck Harmon told McClatchy News. Scott Lancaster was killed while jogging near his high school.

“We are probably disproportionately sensitive to mountain lion behavior and mountain lion stalking and attacks,” he said. “We’re more cognizant of it than other communities as we have had a loss.”

Harmon said that while the threat of a mountain lion attack is scary, they are rare, and estimated there have been about 25 fatal mountain lion deaths in the U.S. since 1890.

In the case of the Havens family, he said he was glad their dog Lady was there.

“You can imagine a diminutive dog going against a full grown mountain lion,” he said. “What a brave dog. It gave its life protecting those family members. Had that mountain lion gotten a hold of one of the children, it would’ve been a very tragic outcome.”

Ever since that day, the family has been traumatized and still doesn’t feel entirely comfortable being in their yard.

But mostly, they miss Lady, who was “small but mighty,” Havens said. “She was a true loving warrior from the day we got her to the time that we had to let her go.”

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