On Thursday, January 19th, a family in Colwood lost a beloved pet—a tabby cat named O’Malley.
According to the family, the 9-year-old cat was hunted and killed by a cougar in their own backyard.
“He was the neighbourhood cat,” Emma Dennis told Victoria Buzz. “Everyone loved him, cuddled him, and he would love you right back.”
“Now he’s cremated on my shelf and my life has an empty spot that won’t be the same. An empty cat stand and cat bed are not going to use.”
Dennis’ home she shares with her husband backs onto Latoria Creek Park—the same park where a cougar had stalked a woman back in November.
Since that time, Dennis says that no active cougar signs have been posted following the incident.
On Thursday evening, the cougar approached their home and came right up to its windows. Dennis said that O’Malley was sitting on the edge of their hot tub, which was near the house’s window when the cougar attacked him.
“My husband was inside the house by the window and heard our cat meow, as if in a cat fight, followed by a couple thumps,” Dennis said.
“My dog started barking and my husband opened the curtain to see a cougar curve away from the house.”
Once the cougar was gone, Dennis went outside to find that O’Malley had died from the attack and she was devastated.
She has since become overwhelmed with grief and anxiety for the neighbourhood kids that play in backyards and in the park where the cougar frequents.
Dennis said she tried calling BC Conservation immediately after the attack on her beloved pet. Their response was that they would send someone to look into it in “a few days.”
“I was super worried about kids around me as this is a huge area with young children, so I called the RCMP,” said Dennis.
She said that West Shore RCMP were not impressed at the lack of urgency on BC Conservation’s behalf and they told her they’d put in a call themselves to try to get a faster response, especially considering the amount of children in the area that could be at risk.
“Within 10 minutes I got calls from two conversation officers,” said Dennis. However, their response to her situation was less than ideal, she says.
“One said, ‘it’s part of the food chain and there is nothing to be done.’ I understand the food chain but when you’re holding your dead cat trying to get a warning out to protect kids nearby it was very heart breaking,” Dennis told Victoria Buzz.
A few minutes later, she received another call from a different conservation officer who told her they were short-staffed and that he would try to get someone out on Thursday evening or early in the morning on January 20th.
“This was all I wanted, someone to investigate the animal,” said Dennis.
Even in her grief, she still recognizes that the cougar that killed her pet, her friend and her family member, O’Malley, has been displaced by residential developments surrounding Latoria Creek Park.
“I am worried it’s pushing the cats into residential areas where they normally stay out.”
“We have lived here for years and our cats never had any issues outside but with all the construction there has been multiple cougar sightings and now a killing,” said Dennis.
All Dennis and her husband want is for the City of Colwood to implement a plan for developers who take over natural habitats to have relocation plans for animals like cougars and bears.
“These poor animals are getting stuck within a small area of land being forced to come into yards to get their next meal,” said Dennis.
“Now we know there are three cougars, not just one.”
Since O’Malley was killed last week and the RCMP’s recent warning of three cougars in her neighbourhood, Dennis is terrified of taking her large dog for walks.
Video shows three young cougars roaming a backyard in Colwood Monday morning.
Shortly after they were spotted, @WestshoreRCMP issued a warning to residents that they should keep an eye out for the trio.
— Victoria Buzz (@victoriabuzzes) January 24, 2023
She now must make sure her husband is available to accompany her and their dog on walks hoping their numbers give them strength to deter a cougar attack.
Dennis would also like to see Colwood Parks and Recreation department put signs up in the park warning of the cougars’ presence out of fear the animals will attack a child next.
“We also called the City and Parks and Rec to get signs up, warning about the cougar on the park trails but none have gone up yet. I’m worried the next attack will be a small child,” she says.
She said that it bothers her no one from the City, BC Conservation or the RCMP followed up with her after her cat died, but after a police officer sees a cougar, it becomes widespread news and finally actions are put in place.
“One cougar is scary but three are horrifying and dangerous, especially now that they are walking around in broad daylight.”
“I don’t want these animals euthanized even though they killed my cat,” said Dennis. “I want them safe and relocated to where they don’t have to kill pets for meals and scare people.”
“To where they can relax outside and run and have room.”