‘Mountain Lion’ Roaming City Street Was Really Just a Pit Bull Mix

dog mistaken for mountain lionResidents of Norwalk, Calif., were concerned when a homeowner’s security video camera captured what appeared to be a mountain lion roaming the street late at night.

The homeowner sent the video to the California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, which confirmed the animal wasn’t a mountain lion. But officials couldn’t determine exactly what it was.

Norwalk city spokesman Jeff Hobbs told City News Service Aug. 1 that the animal appeared to have a mane, and looked more like a lion.

“Yes, it certainly does look like an African lion. It’s not a cougar,” Craig Packer, a professor at the University of Minnesota Lion Research Center, told the Los Angeles Times.

Joel Almquist, executive director and founder of the Forever Wild Exotic Animal Sanctuary, told the Times that at first he thought the animal in the video was a dog. “But upon closer inspection, said he thought it was a leopard, noting its movement and height,” the Times reported.

The Dept. of Fish and Wildlife told Norwalk residents to use caution, stay indoors and notify authorities if they saw the mystery beast.

Many Norwalk residents wondered how the heck a lion ended up in their Southern California city, which is miles away from any wilderness areas.

The story got international news coverage earlier this month. “At first glance the creature, which ambles slowly and calmly past the security camera, appears to be an African lioness or mountain lion,” wrote the Daily Mail Aug. 4. The article went on to say that officials and experts “have suggested it is — among other things — a mountain lion, an African lion, some type of hybrid dog, a leopard or a large domestic cat. Some have even speculated it could be the mythical Chupacabra.”

But when Brendan Mriz, dog dad of a 4-year-old Pit Bull mix named Buddy, saw the video, he thought he recognized the mystery animal. Could it be his Buddy, who had escaped from the yard that very same night?

Two local security surveillance companies recreated the video using Buddy, and then compared it with the video of the “lion.” Buddy’s gait and physical appearance were a perfect match.

Hopefully Mriz will keep his yard better secured — not only for Buddy’s safety, but to prevent Norwalk residents from having to deal with any future “Chupacabra” sightings.

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Laura Goldman

I am a freelance writer and lifelong dog lover. For five years, I was a staff writer for i Love Dogs. When that site shut down, I started this blog...because I STILL Love Dogs!