Friday morning in the Buena Creek area, an 80-pound pit bull/Labrador mix was attacked and killed in his own backyard.
Owner Drew Williams told FOX 5 he let his dog, Ninja, out around 8 a.m., but his dog never came home.
“My neighbor found him, basically mortally wounded. He was still alive,” Williams said. “He was attacked by something large -- most likely by a mountain lion.”
Just two weeks earlier, Drew’s neighbors saw what they believed was a mountain lion hop a nearby fence. They told FOX 5 they believe the cat was probably about 80 pounds.
“There have been multiple sightings throughout the whole valley here,” Williams said.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife said there are an estimated 6,000 mountain lions statewide. In San Diego, mountain lions are known to be prevalent in areas east of Interstate 15 and north of Interstate 8.
“We haven’t confirmed if the attack in Vista is a mountain lion. Wardens in the area are on alert,” said Andrew Hughan, public information officer. “There are definitely lions in the North County.”
Hughan also said male lions can track up to 250 square miles and females at 150 square miles.
“We’ve lost cats and little dogs but never a 70-to-80 pound large dog,” said Drew.
Williams said wildlife is common in the hills of Vista, but Ninja’s wounds were not from the usual coyote or bobcat.
“He only had two big wounds,” Williams said. “He had one on his shoulder and one on his thigh. From those wounds, he died. He passed away from just a few bites, which leads us to believe it was a mountain lion.”
That’s why he is sharing Ninja’s story now.
“We just want everyone to be vigilant,” Williams said. “Just watch out for yourself, your family, your pets and pretty much everything.”
Hughan said if you see a mountain, remember the animal is more afraid of you than you are of it.
"The best advice is to take off your jacket, wave it above your head and make loud noises,” he said. “Ninety-nine times out of 100, it will run away.”