A Canadian man who saw an animal attacking his dog sprang into action to save his best friend’s life, punching what he then realized was a cougar in the face before attempting to chase it off, authorities said.
William Gibb, 31, and his brother had arrived at a Tim Hortons restaurant in Whitecourt in central Alberta on Monday to meet a friend for coffee when he let his two dogs — Sasha, a 5-year-old Husky, and Mongo, a 10-year-old Malamute — out of his truck to stretch.
It wasn’t long before he realized something was wrong.
“Less than 30 seconds later, I could hear Sasha calling out, crying out in pain,” Gibb told InsideEdition.com on Friday. “I thought maybe she broke her leg or got her paw stuck. But she was lying on her side, and this sandy gray creature was just on top of her.”
Gibb immediately took action, charging at the animal harming his dog.
“I aimed for what I thought was the head and I punched as hard as I could,” Gibb said. “The thing immediately let go of Sasha … and I was face to face with what I realized was a cougar.”
It appeared the fierce feline was readying to retreat to its hiding spot to wait for more prey, and Gibb wouldn’t stand for it.
“I chased it, started swinging at it, kicking at it, screaming at it,” he said. “I started screaming for my brother and my buddy. I scooped up Sasha in my left arm, and her nerves must’ve been firing … because she latched on to my own hand thinking I was the cougar and she bit as hard as she could.”
After putting up a slight struggle, Sasha regained her balance and ran to safety, letting Gibb focus on protecting Mongo from the cougar.
“I could see the cougar moving toward Mongo, so I put myself in between them and started swinging at it, kicking at it... I was hoping it would pay its full attention to me,” he said, noting that at no moment was he afraid of what might happen to him.
"'Fear' was not in my vocabulary that night," he said with a laugh. "I just wanted to get that animal away from my dogs."
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police responded to a call of a cougar attack near the Tim Hortons at about 6:30 p.m.
Two officers located the cougar, which had remained in the immediate vicinity and was put down after it was deemed a threat to public safety by police and the Whitecourt Fish and Wildlife Division, officials told InsideEdition.com.
DNA testing confirmed the animal was the same cougar involved in the attack. It was believed to have been a 2-year-old male that weight about 100 pounds—only 20 pounds less than its would-be victim.
“It was found within 100 feet of the attack... it didn’t move at all. That’s why the police had to destroy it,” Gibb said. “Had it done the normal thing and taken off, that would’ve been the end of it. But it was already [getting] back in attack position, swiping when it was finally spotted.”
Sasha was taken to a nearby vet, where she was treated for puncture wounds on her neck, gashes on her stomach and other minor scratches. She underwent precautionary surgery on Friday to get a drain tube installed to help her wounds heal and is expected to make a full recovery.
Gibb suffered bruises and minor injuries when he was bit.
“We’re very lucky, in an unlucky way, that it attacked us,” Gibb said. “We were a little bit more equipped to deal with that situation. It would’ve broken my heart if it was a little kid or a small dog that it had attacked.”
Cougar sightings around Whitecourt are not uncommon, but Gibb was surprised to encounter one in such a relatively populated area. Still, if he had to do it again, he wouldn’t change a thing.
"Everyone I know of would have done the exact same thing as me," he said. "You protect your family, you protect your pets — they’re your children."