WARNING: This story contains a graphic image of injuries.
When Joel Anstett let his large beagle out into the backyard of his home in Ashcroft, B.C., earlier this month, he thought it would be just another late-night pee for his canine friend, Apollo.
He didn’t expect the traumatic events that followed.
“All of a sudden, I heard a loud thud and it sounded like my dog … like the wind was taken out of him,” Anstett said on CBC’s Daybreak Kamloops.
“I heard a little yelp, and it sounded like my dog lost its breath,” he continued. “I ran over there and shined my cellphone light on — and I noticed there was a big cat on top of him.”
Not sure what kind of feline it was, Anstett went into battle mode to rescue his dog and ended up with injuries all over his hands and arms.
The B.C. Conservation Officer Service has confirmed it was a bobcat, the first one the agency has spotted in Ashcroft this year.
Sightings of bobcats have been rare in the Thompson region. Local conservation officers say they haven’t seen the species in Ashcroft for more than a decade.
Rare conflict with a bobcat
Anstett said he didn’t hesitate to protect Apollo from the bobcat, which he says was twice as big as his dog.
“I jumped on top of the cat,” he said. “I was trying to force my forearm into its throat, but every time I did that, it kept biting at me and turning its head.”
“[The cat] bit me in the forearm … bit my finger tips off, bit my other index finger that can [now] barely move.”
He said the bite on his forearm went down to the bone, and Apollo was bitten five times.
Anstett said he kept yelling for help, but it was pitch black and his neighbours had likely all gone to sleep.
After noticing that Apollo had scurried away, Anstett said he picked up the bobcat and threw it over a tall fence into his neighbour’s yard.
Anstett said he could still hear the cat hissing and howling while running along the fencing, so he hurried back to his house.
It wasn’t until he got inside that he noticed his wounds. He immediately went to Royal Inland Hospital, where he was given stitches and was told he needed a series of rabies vaccines.
Precaution against bobcats
Anstett has installed lights in his backyard and says he will walk Apollo from now on with some sort of weapon to fend off predators.
Kamloops-based conservation officer Jared Connatty, who investigated Anstett’s case, said his colleagues have set a trap in the backyard, but haven’t been able to catch the bobcat since the attack on July 20.
Connatty said it’s unusual to spot a bobcat in a residential neighbourhood like Anstett’s.
“The wrong place, wrong time for all parties,” he said. “Certainly we don’t expect to encounter those types of wild animals when you live in those types of places.”
The Conservation Officer Service asks people to make sure there are no bobcat attractants in their backyards, and to always put their dogs on leashes.
Anyone spotting wildlife in or around communities is urged to report it via the Conservation Office Service’s 24-hour hotline at 1-877-952-7277.