Family believes mountain lion killed dogs

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VISTA, Calif. – The San Diego Sheriff's Department is issuing a warning to North County residents after two small dogs were fatally attacked Monday morning. The owners believe a mountain lion is to blame.

The incident occurred in the 1700 block of West Knapp Drive. One Chihuahua was mauled to death and another is still missing.

Neighbors had a hard time believing it was truly a mountain lion.

"I hear coyotes playing in the back, making a lot of noise," said neighbor Lauro Bacan.

Sheriff's deputies said they did spot a mountain lion in a tree three days ago near the 300 block of West Connecticut Avenue, approximately a mile and a half from where the dogs were attacked.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife sent field crews to investigate the sighting.

"Our staff went out to the field, we looked for evidence, but we couldn't find any," said Janice Mackey of the department.

Mackey said crews did find a paw print, but could not confirm it belonged to a mountain lion.

"It wasn't a big enough print and we couldn't make a determination of it because it wasn't clear enough," said Mackey.

She said the agency is monitoring the Chihuahua attack, but wildlife officials do not believe it was a mountain lion.

"We think this attack is more consistent with that of a coyote," she said.

"I don't have a sense of danger yet," said neighbor Steve Alan.

Alan lives across the street from where the Chihuahua was killed. He said a new development is being built in the canyon behind his home and believes coyotes being driven from their homes are to blame.

"I just don't have any personal experience of seeing a mountain lion in this neighborhood,” he said. “I still can't really believe those dogs were attacked by a mountain lion."

Mackey said even though there is no evidence, it does not mean a mountain lion does not exist.

"There's always the possibility, so you should always bring in the pets at night time."