A dog that was mauled by a mountain lion near the Blue Jay campground in the Cleveland National Forest was recovering Wednesday, but officials called off their search for the cat involved in the encounter.
"It is not deemed a public-safety issue," Harry Morse of the California Department of Fish and Game said Wednesday morning. "There is no search under way."
The black shepherd-mix dog, named Hoagy, was severely injured in Tuesday's noon incident but was expected to recover following surgery at a Riverside County veterinary hospital, said Jim Amormino of the Orange County Sheriff's Department.
The cougar was estimated to be about 100 pounds, Amormino said. The campground was closed afterward, and remained closed Wednesday, Morse said.
Fish and Game Lt. Dan Sforza told the Orange County Register that the big cat likely acted in self-defense.
"It doesn't look like the lion was interested in the dog as a meal," Sforza told the newspaper. "It was just defending itself. We have a policy to determine if this is a public safety threat, and I am not classifying it as that."
Sforza said investigators believe the animals apparently spotted one another at the same time, and the lion started to run off, chased by the dog, contrary to what the dog's owner claimed.
Dog owner William Morse told reporters that he, his wife and dog were out for a walk when "out of nowhere a mountain lion just charged us, attacked us, and my dog saved our life, saved me and my wife's life."
Morse and his wife rushed the injured dog to fire station at El Cariso, and from there to the veterinary hospital for surgery.
Morse, who said he got his dog from an abused animal shelter, said he had visited the area for about 21 years "and I've never ever been attacked."
"He's about five years old and just man's best friend," Morse said. "You couldn't ask for a better dog at this time."
While at the animal hospital, Morse said, he got a call from animal advocacy group that will help pay the bill.
Amormino said that Morse's wife was about 150 yards behind her husband when the incident occurred.