Thunder Bay woman fights off lynx as it attacks her dog

Updated: February 27, 2018

Lynx walking on snow Photo by Keith Williams

A Thunder Bay woman walking her dog last week hadn’t even left her own property before the dog was leapt upon by a lynx, and now she is warning other pet owners in the region to be careful when taking their pets outdoors.

Nowell Sleep brought her dog, a 14-pound maltipoo named Molly, out to the the parking lot of her condo at around 8:00 p.m., and they were headed back indoors when Sleep felt a tug on the leash. She turned around, and three feet away, she saw her dog had been latched onto by an animal that she couldn’t immediately identify.

“I couldn’t even see her, and there was something on top of the dog, and at that point it was some animal, and I knew if I didn’t do something Molly would die,” Sleep told the CBC.

Acting instinctively, Sleep grabbed the creature, which turned out to be a lynx. “I shook it because it had Molly in its grip, and I shook the lynx until it freed Molly and dropped Molly,” Sleep told WTIP Community Radio, “and then once it dropped Molly, I just threw it.”

Sleep then picked up her dog and ran into the condo. While she was in the front entrance of the building, she saw the lynx was just two feet from the window, staring in at them.

The dog was injured and bleeding, and Sleep took her to the vet that evening. Fortunately, she didn’t need sutures or surgery, though she had puncture wounds on her head.

Molly the maltipoo with injuries on head
Molly had puncture wounds on her head but luckily did not require stitches or surgery. [Credit: Nowell Sleep]
“Looking at the lynx, it was two and a half times the size of Molly, so I would say it was probably 30 to 35 pounds,” Sleep told WTIP. Sleep believed that if Molly had not been on a leash, the lynx may have carried her away.

Thunder Bay Police issued a release a couple of days later saying they had received more calls about the lynx, but when they had come to respond to one of the calls, the lynx had already left.

Ron Moen, a biology professor at the University of Minnesota, told the CBC tend not to be afraid of people.

“It’s certainly unusual in the sense that lynx are usually in the forest . . . [but] when you actually see a lynx as opposed to a bobcat, they don’t seem to be afraid of you,” Moen explained. “A lot of times a lynx will just sit or stand there and look back at you.”

Moen said that people who encounter a lynx should keep their distance, as they may attack when cornered or if they feel threatened.

Thanks to the brave actions of her owner, Molly is now at home and expected to make a full recovery — though she may not want to go back to back to the parking lot anytime soon.

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