By Nia Williams
CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - A Canadian man punched a cougar in the face to stop it attacking his dog in a wooded area near a fast food store in Whitecourt, central Alberta, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said on Wednesday.
William Gibb, 31, from Red Deer, Alberta, had stopped at a Tim Hortons outlet, a popular Canadian restaurant chain while driving 600-kilometre (372-miles) to Grand Prairie on Monday evening and let his dog out for a walk, Whitecourt RCMP Sergeant Tom Kalis said.
Shortly after, Gibb heard his 80-pound (36-kg) female Husky called Sasha whimpering in pain and found a cougar pinning her to the ground.
"I could see something wrapped around her and wasn't sure what it was. I ran over and punched it in what I thought was the head, and it backed off and I realized it was a cougar," Gibb, an electrician, told Reuters.
"I stepped over Sasha and charged at it swinging and screaming and calling for my brother and buddy to give a hand," he added.
Gibb kept the cougar at bay, which he said swiped at him a few times, as he tended to his injured dog and called the police, before getting Sasha into his truck and driving her away for medical attention.
He said the police arrived five or 10 minutes later and, after consulting with fish and wildlife officers, killed the cougar because of the risk it could attack another dog or even humans.
Gibb himself was not seriously injured, although Sasha bit him on the hand as he was trying to rescue her.
Kalis said cougar sightings were not uncommon around Whitecourt because the town is surrounded by forests, but it is unusual for them to attack dogs.
(Reporting by Nia Williams; Editing by Sandra Maler and Alistair Bell)