Kanawha County man says mountain lion attacks his dog; wildlife officials not so sure

A man in Western Kanawha County said the animal that took a big bite out of his dog, shown in this photo, was a mountain lion. (WCHS/WVAH)

Something took a big bite out of Bob Hapney's dog Saturday in western Kanawha County, and Hapney insists it was a mountain lion.

Hapney said he was in his home on Ferrell Road in the Tornado area when his dog yelped in pain.

Two other family dogs charged the attacking animal, distracting it. Hapney also fired a gun to scare the animal. He then said he got a good look at the animal.

“I saw something jump up with a long tail and at first it didn’t sink in on what it was,” Hapney said. “Then, the dogs backed off when it left the little dog alone and it turned around and looked at me and kind of silhouetted itself and stretched out.”

Even though Hapney maintains the animal was a mountain lion, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources said the only mountain lions in the state are in captivity. Wildlife officials said the animal must have been a bobcat, a coyote or a feral dog.

Art Schomo of the DNR said the agency has no proof from many years back that suggests the animals exist in the wild in the state.

“In the whole state, we have no proof that they exist in West Virginia in the 20, 30 or 40 years,” Schomo said.

Hapney said he has killed bobcats before and he knows he saw a mountain lion. He also said the cat could still be in the woods.

"It was a mountain lion. If I was to say I ever saw a mountain lion, that was a mountain lion," Hapney said.

The DNR said if a mountain lion was seen in West Virginia, it would likely be one that had escaped captivity. The animals are largely gone in the eastern United States, but there have been multiple sightings in Tennessee since 2015.

Hapney's dog is still recovering from the bite.

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