Family Dog Killed by Cougar Near Sweet Home, Heightening Local Wildlife Concerns

Photo provided by Hazel Blank

A Sweet Home family is mourning the loss of their beloved dog, Zeus, after an encounter with a cougar left him paralyzed and ultimately ended his life.

 “We have been aware of cougars in the past, but before that night we haven’t had one that close to our house,” Hazel Blank said. “It had been a year or two since the last sighting in general.” 

The Blank family was on their porch in the 2400 block of Ames Creek Road the night of April 14. At or around 9:30 p.m, the couple let Zeus out to use the restroom. 

“He must not have been aware of a cougar down past our driveway a couple hundred feet or so from our porch,” Blank said.

She mentioned how  their dog usually would alert them to anything on the property. This evening was different. 

“This time he went down there and the cougar had pounced on him super quick and we immediately ran down there yelling since we heard the giant cat and saw the figure,” Blank said. “As it ran off we were more concerned about our injured pet than finding the cougar.” 

Blank’s brother and father carried Zeus up to their house as she called the 24-hour animal hospital in Corvallis. Her brother then rushed Zeus to the hospital, where he was pronounced paralyzed and, not long after, dead.

“We were all heartbroken, but my brother was really affected by this incident,” Blank said. “He described, ‘It feels like my best friend was just murdered’.”

Photo provided by Hazel Blank

According to Greg Reed, district wildlife biologist for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), all suitable habitat around Sweet Home is occupied by cougars, so it is not unexpected that there will be sightings.

“Unfortunately, occasionally there are also incidents involving pets and livestock. ODFW tracks all reported sightings or incidents and makes an effort to respond quickly to any safety issues, including pet or livestock depredations.”

He also noted there has not been an observed increase in cougar sightings in 2024, but sightings have been relatively common around Sweet Home for a number of years.

According to Reed, residential areas that are surrounded by or border a forest have a higher probability of seeing a cougar.

Photo provided by Hazel Blank

“Over the years there have been reports from the south side of town, including areas such as Ames Creek, Mountain View Road, 43rd Avenue, 50th Avenue and Wiley Creek. North of town, the majority of sightings have come from North River Drive.”

Reed provided some suggestions on what the public can do to prevent another tragic incident.

“The most important thing people can do to keep their pets safe is to be with them when they are outside, especially at night,” he said. “Additionally, it is never recommended to feed pets outside, and if they are kept outside alone, they should be in a secured dog run with a roof.”
Reed also touched on how the public should never feed wildlife, as attracting prey species can increase the likelihood that cougars will use a property. Reed recommended that installing motion detecting lights and clearing brush predators could use for stalking could also be beneficial.

“If people are seeing cougars on their property, they should report them to ODFW. If there is an imminent threat from a cougar, then people should call 911,” Reed said. 

Pets are oftentimes regarded as members of the family, best friends and companions people look towards in negative times. The loss of one of those can hurt unimaginably. Blank closed out her statement to us stating, “[Zeus was] a protective golden lab who loved his family and was great with all our kids.”

For more information on how to avoid conflicts or handle encounters with cougars, visit or