Eva had gone off ahead of her owner when the lion attacked, so the dog ran back and got between the cat and her human.
dog who saved owner from a mountain lion
Credit: Eudyptula / Getty

Eva the Belgian Malinois is home now, getting a well-deserved rest on a brand-new bed surrounded by new toys after nearly dying while protecting her human from a mountain lion.

The attack happened on May 16 in northern California's Trinity County when 24-year-old Erin Wilson pulled off at a roadside picnic area along State Route 299 and headed down a path toward the Trinity River. She didn't get far, however, before she found herself cornered by a mountain lion.

"I'm just walking down the slope and the dog had run ahead of me. And I turn around and there's this cat just growling at me and it reaches up and it swipes at me," Wilson told NPR. "At first, I was just like, Wait, what? And I think I screamed and I shouted for Eva and she came running."

Mountain lion attacks on humans are incredibly rare. Since 1890, California has recorded only six fatal mountain lion attacks because of the animal's generally shy, reclusive nature. Their preferred prey is deer, which are normally in abundance in their forested habitat, but recent drought conditions have made food scarce in some areas. Wilson speculated to NPR that these conditions made the sudden appearance of a slender woman look like an attractive option.

The lion's swipe scratched Wilson's left shoulder as Eva came running back at the sound of distress. Looking to protect her human, Eva lept between Wilson and the lion, tackling the wild cat and kicking off a life-and-death struggle between the two animals.

After a short tussle, the mountain lion got its jaws around Eva's head and Wilson fought to free her dog, hitting the lion with rocks in an attempt to break its grip. Eventually, Wilson ran back to her truck and flagged down passing motorist Sharon Houston. Retrieving a crowbar from her truck, Wilson and Houston ran back down the trail and their combined efforts managed to scare the big cat off.

Wounded herself and shaken by the experience, Wilson still managed to carry Eva back to her truck and race her back down the twisting road to the VCA Asher Animal Hospital in Redding. The 2-year-old doggo didn't need surgery, but her wounds were still extensive. Eva left the animal hospital on May 19 with surgical tape wrapped around both her front paws, several shaved patches where she had been stitched up, and the veterinarian said she might lose sight in her left eye.

Eva's spirits, however, seem high as news footage from the Sacramento Bee showed the pupper active and wagging her tail as she and Wilson left the animal hospital.

"I would do anything for her," Wilson told the Bee. "And now I know that she would do pretty much anything for me."