Mountain lion suspected in death of Castle Rock family’s dog

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CASTLE ROCK, Colo. -- A Castle Rock family is trying to figure out what sort of wild animal killed their dog over the weekend. All clues indicate it was likely a mountain lion.

This happened in a subdivision just southwest of the Red Hawk Ridge Golf Course, west of I-25 and north of Wolfensberger Road.

Jill McElheny’s 10-year-old son let their Boston terrier Oscar outside about 6 p.m. Saturday. Within three to six minutes, Oscar had disappeared. All that was left were a few drops of blood.

“My daughter went to let him back in because she heard the other dog barking at the fence,” McElheny said.

The blood trail brought the family to a ravine about 10 feet from the home. Eventually, they stumbled upon Oscar’s body.

“They had grabbed my dog by the neck and basically slit his throat with his neck and just left him,” she said.

Mountain lions have been spotted near the ravine before, but so have coyotes. Wildlife officials say it’s tough to tell. But given the clues involved, there’s a good chance it was a mountain lion.

“It was a bold and brazen animal that did this. Also a large one that could carry my 22-pound dog over a fence,” McElheny said.

The paw prints around Oscar’s body look like that of a large cat. They didn’t have any claw marks in them, which is another indicator it could have been a mountain lion. Mountain lions' claws go back in while they’re walking, just like a house cat.

On top of that, there’s a large open connector pipe in the ravine, which is a common place for mountain lions to hide in populated areas. There were additional paw prints around the entrance.

“I’m all for co-existing with wildlife. That’s why we’re here. But I feel like they’re too bold trying to get into your backyard,” McElheny said.

Mountain lions live along Colorado’s foothills. The home McElheny and her family live in is butted against the foothills.

The McElhenys are hoping people will learn from their story and will keep a close eye on their pets -- even if they’re only letting them out for a few minutes.

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