Mountain Lion Enters Home, Attacks Dog

Family Retreats To Car For Safety

A mountain lion snatched a sandal out of a house in Summit County, attacked a pet and stared down a resident last weekend.

Jim and Natalie Nicholas were staying at a friend's home on Ute Pass Road, north of Silverthorne, Colo., on Saturday, when a mountain lion casually walked into the open front door.

They said the cat grabbed one of Natalie's sandals and walked out of the house.

Later, Jim Nichols walked into the woods in an attempt to find his wife's sandal and came face-to-face with the lion chewing on the shoe.

"When I went up to that cat, he looked at me like I wasn't a threat to him," he told the Summit Daily News. Jim retreated without the sandal.

Later in the evening, Christy Sterling was throwing a stick for a 55-pound Golden Retriever when a mountain lion -- mostly likely the same one -- jumped over a fence and attacked the canine. The dog was able to wrestle free, suffering only a scratch on his side.

The Sterling family and the dog retreated to the safety of the family car.

Todd Malmsbury, the chief of information for the state Division of Wildlife, told the Daily News it's rare for mountain lions to attack animals when people are nearby.

"It might have been more of a reaction to the dog running toward him," Malmsbury told the Daily News. "It doesn't sound like a predatory attack."

Sterling said she first thought the lion was a coyote. "But then I saw it, and thought, 'What the bleep is that?"'

Mountain lion sightings are rare, and the animals can usually live near humans with little conflict, the Division of Wildlife said.

The Nicholases are taking new precautions, not allowing their children outside alone and buying bear spray.

"We know they're out there," Jim Nicholas said. "But we've moved into their area. We need to watch ourselves a little bit better."

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