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Video: Canine ‘Angel’ saves boy from cougar

  1. Closed captioning of: Canine ‘Angel’ saves boy from cougar

    >>> we're back n at 8:09 wit the story o an 11-yeaold boy and th ang thataved his life. we'll talk to him exclusive in moment, but first, national corrpondent natalie morales hashe details.

    >> ustin says he wldn't be here this morng if it weren't foris beloved dog angelho fended off a cougar rea to pounce. austinoran is lucky tbe alive this morning thanks to his dog, a goln retriever named gel.

    >> we're really lucky that he was saved b an angel , because that's exactly wha it was. mean, there's no other word for it.

    reporr: the 18-month-old dog stopped aougarrom attacking her 11-year-old owner.

    >> i was really scared. like at first, i didn't know that it was a cougar . i thought it was another dogr sothing, but as soon as it wentnderneathhe light, saw that it was a cougar and i knew at that momt i had to go inside

    >> reporter: the attack happened when austin wt t get se firewood outside his home in boston bar ,cana. the dog obviously knew something was u because she ran towas me just at the right time and the couga ended up getting her instd.

    >> reporter:ustin ran to safety while angel did her best to fight off the cougar but the beloved faly petas no match for the wild animal

    >> whining and making noises like we've never heard before, anwe knew that cgar was killing ou dog.

    >> reporte a nearby royal canadian mounted police offir was on the sne within minutes of the attack.

    >> i could see tt theougar d the dog in its moutik arou theg' neck, so at that point, i fired a und, direct hit .

    >> repter:he officer fed two shots and killed the cougar . dly bitten, angel survived. t cougar hadts mth over toof t dog's mouth trying to suffocate it andled all over th anal,nd out of nowhere, the dog breathes spfair, just like comes back from bei dead a jus goes, and spits out blood. and i'm looking at her and hoing her, and i like, "she's going to be all rht you guys."

    >> sas my best friend , but she's now even greater to me, re than a best frien now.

    >> andngel is coinuing to recupete from her ordeal and the foremans areonfident hll recover fromer injuries.

    >> and austin and his mother and e constable are with us this morning. good morning.

    >> angel 's still not there, she's recuperating. what's herondition? how's she doing?

    >> well, she's at the vet's right now. she had surgery yesterday afternoo she was in for aboutn hour in surgery. extensivenjuries to her head. her skull was fractured and ty had toiece it togethe as wl asumerous other wounds, but we're hopefulor a full recovery. just going to hope andray that she mes throug this okay.

    >> wow. shs a superdog. austin , u really sse that the dog, tt ael knew something w wrong that time wh you were going out for the firewood. you think thas why s was sticking so close to you?

    >> yeah.

    >> and when the cougar jumped, i mean, di itll happen in a spli send did you havenyime to react at all, austin ?

    >> no. it all jt happen so fas and i wasust lucky that my dog was there because it happene so fast that i wouldn't havenown wh hit me.

    >> and it had to be terrible for you, auin, becse you managed to get inside, buthen you're sting to tse yelps a the ines from your dognd you reize that something terrible was happening just outside that door, didn'tou?

    >> yeah, i did.

    >> sher, it was lucky -- a couple of things lucky here -- one, lucky you were so cle, you were able toick up the phe and callhe police very fast,nd constablegravelle, yowere what, a block and a lf ay something like at?

    >> yeah, less than that, maybe half a block. r office isust down the stre and i was just sitti there fishing up some paperwork.

    >> and the call ce in that a young boy s being attacked by a ugar, correct?

    >> ye, at first ieard it was a young boy . then they gave me the address and name of the fily and i knewxactly w it wasnd who the faly was, so, i got down here as soon as could, and that's whenne of their daughters ran out on the porch and said, "hurry up, chad, the cougar 's got our dog." anat that point, i was a little mor relieved thatustin was okay, becse i kw he's the only little boy in this house.

    >> right. so it was aittle better feeling knowing aust was okay. now weust had to deal with the g.

    >> you get there and you fired a shot, a couple of shots, as we've tked about. were you worried aboutitting thdog?

    >> oh, ye, absolutely. the g and t cougar were all kind of tangled up as oneunit, and i cod see on one se of e porch i could s the cougar . the cougar like hind end type thing, and i was able to get one shot ere. but when i cameround front and kind ofonfronted the cougar and the dog, it was reall dark out and i was ju, you know, trying to line up my st as best as i cod,nd i could just see maybe twor three inch of the cougar 's head sticking o from behind angel , d luckily, i was ableo get a good st off and was unable to hit the do

    >> austin , do you ve any doubt that ang saved your life that da

    >> , i don't. i believe that there was a purpose for that and i do believe she knew something was up.

    >> and sherry, i kw you feel at constable gravelle saved angel 's le just t way angel vedaustin's life absotely. witht him, there'so way angel would have survived. know that theounds had all stped d it was just matter of conds. so, the timing was perfect and we're very, very thankfulhat he got here as quickly as hdid and things turned out a lot better than what they could have been.

    >> let's get to th really imrtant stuff. how do youeward angel when she ts home?

    >> austin ?

    >> well, i had gone to town yesterday and i went into a surstore there and i bought her a nice, big, juicy steak.

    >> she's going to love that.

    >> yep.

    >> i hopehe's able to eat it real soon . you know at old joke, where does angel sleep? well, from now , anywhere she wants to, i would imagine.

    >> absolutely.

    >> ye

    >> hey, aust,'m glad y're okay, and we're praying for angel . we hope she home real soon wi you.

    >> okay.

    >> thank you.

    >> and constable,reat job. sherry, ce talki to you as well.

    >> thank you very much.

TODAY contributor
updated 1/5/2010 9:37:18 AM ET 2010-01-05T14:37:18

The 11-year-old boy didn’t have time to react — and barely enough time to realize that a cougar was flying toward him with dinner on its mind. Luckily for Austin Forman, his dog, Angel, threw herself between her best friend and a lethal predator.

Never was a dog more appropriately named than the 18-month-old golden retriever who nearly gave her life to save Austin Sunday in Bar Boston, a small Canadian town some 150 miles north of Vancouver, British Columbia.

“She was my best friend, but now she’s even greater to me. She’s more than a best friend now,” Austin told TODAY’s Matt Lauer Tuesday morning from his home, where he was joined by his mother, Sherri Forman, and Royal Canadian Mounted Police Constable Chad Gravelle, who shot the cougar and saved Angel.

“We’re really lucky that he was saved by an angel. That’s exactly what it was. There’s no other word for it,” Jay Forman, Austin’s father, told NBC News.

Angel to the rescue
Around 5:30 Sunday evening, Austin went out with a wheelbarrow to bring in wood to feed the family’s wood-burning furnace. At that hour at that northern latitude, it was already dark.

Angel went along with Austin, and the boy found it curious that instead of playfully galumphing around the yard as she normally did, the dog stayed close by his side. He would shortly learn that there was a reason for her actions.

Austin was a few feet from the woodshed when he saw the cougar, which he first assumed was another dog. Although cougars inhabit the surrounding forests, they usually stay away from towns.

There was a light in the backyard, and when the animal got under it, Austin saw it was a cougar getting ready to pounce from less than 10 feet away. But just as the animal leaped, Angel came to the rescue.

“The dog knew something was up, because she ran toward me just at the right time, and the cougar ended up getting her instead,” Austin said. “I was just lucky my dog was there, because it happened so fast I wouldn’t have known what hit me.”

Dog in danger
The cougar clamped its jaws around Angel’s head. Frantic, Austin screamed for his mother and ran inside the house, yelling, “There’s a cougar eating Angel!”

Sherri Forman looked out the window and saw the cougar on the patio with Angel’s head in its mouth. It didn’t look good for the heroic pet. Angel, Sherri said, was “whining and making noises like we’ve never heard before. We knew that cougar was killing our dog.”

The cougar threatened Austin Forman as the boy was fetching firewood.
She called her father-in-law, Lloyd Forman, and he told her to call 911.

Boston Bar is a small town of fewer than 1,000 people about 150 miles outside of Vancouver in British Columbia. It’s the kind of place where everybody knows everybody else, and that applies to Constable Chad Gravelle, who was finishing up the day’s paperwork when he got the call at his office less than a block away from the Forman home.

The 911 dispatcher told Gravelle that a cougar was attacking a young boy. When the constable took down the address and family name, he knew immediately that the boy could only be Austin Forman.

He rushed to the home, thinking that Austin’s life was in danger. When he arrived, “One of their daughters ran out on the porch and said, ‘Hurry up, Chad, the cougar’s got our dog,’ ” Gravelle said. “At that point, I was a little bit more relieved that Austin was OK because I know he’s the only young boy in this house. Now we only had to deal with the dog.”

A shot in the dark
Gravelle drew his sidearm and went out the back door. He saw the cougar’s tail extending out from underneath the porch. Although he had a flashlight, it was dark and hard to see, and Gravelle was dealing with a deadly animal in a confined space.

Constable Chad Gravelle, 11-year-old Austin Forman and Sherri Forman spoke with TODAY via satellite.
“The dog and the cougar were all kind of tangled up as one unit,” he said. But he was able to see the big cat’s hindquarters and fired one shot, hoping to sever the animal’s spine.

When the cougar kept up its attack on Angel, Gravelle moved around to get in front of the cougar, which was less than 6 feet away.

“It was really dark out, and I was just trying to line up my shot as best I could. I could just see about two or three inches of the cougar’s head sticking out from behind Angel, and luckily I was able to get a good shot off,” Gravelle said.

“Without him, there’s no way Angel would have survived,” Sherri said. “The sounds had all stopped, and it was just a matter of seconds. The timing was perfect.”

The shot killed the cougar and missed Angel, but the cat still had its jaws around the dog’s head.

Hero hound
Austin’s cousin, Travis Comkin, was also at the house, and he went to help Angel.

Angel sustained injuries in her encounter with the cougar, but her owners are hoping for her full recovery.
“The cougar had its mouth over the top of the dog’s mouth, trying to suffocate it, blood all over the animal,” Comkin told NBC News. “And out of nowhere, the dog breathed a gasp of air, just like it comes back from being dead, and just spits up blood. And I’m looking at her, and I’m holding her, and I’m like, she’s going to be all right.”

From being all but dead, Angel went back to romping around the backyard, her head covered in blood. The Formans took her to a veterinarian, where she was treated for extensive — but not life-threatening — injuries.

“She had surgery yesterday afternoon,” Sherri told Lauer. “She was in for about an hour in surgery: extensive injuries to her head. Her skull was fractured, and they had to piece it together along with numerous other wounds. We’re hopeful for a full recovery.”

Angel was expected to return home as early as Tuesday to a hero’s welcome and a thank-you present purchased especially for her by her best friend.

“I bought her a big, nice juicy steak,” Austin told Lauer.

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