LAKE STEVENS - Living in the woods, things can get wild. That's why Rachel Syson keeps her trusty guard dog Riley.
"With the presence of the dogs it keeps the wild animals away ... and that didn't work out so well,” she said.
Because Riley had a run-in with a cougar. He lost his front right leg in the attack. The left one is broken.
"He's so young, he's got so much fight in him,” said Syson.
It was last Thursday when Rachel came home to find Riley lying on the front porch.
“I could see every bone, every muscle in his paw and at first I thought he was hit by a car," she said.
The family thinks the cougar was lurking in the grass undetected and then chased and cornered Riley before attacking.
Rachel's dad saw warning signs that a cougar may be near.
"The coyotes seemed to disappear all of a sudden, we haven't seen or heard from them,” said Doug Syson.
The family adopted Riley as protection after a cougar attacked and killed a neighbor's dog last October. Now the Sysons are learning about making their property less cougar friendly. They're thinning the woods, removing spots where a cougar might hide.
"I want people to know that no dog is really safe,” said Rachel.
A lot of care and a $4,000 medical bill put Riley on a road to recovery.
Fish and wildlife officers say reports of cougar sightings have actually decreased in our area. But they still remind everyone in rural neighborhoods to keep a close eye on pets and small children