A San Mateo County homeowner woke up early Monday to find that what's believed to have been a mountain lion had entered her bedroom, snatched her pet dog and walked out, authorities said.
The woman and her child were sleeping in her bedroom at about 3 a.m., when her 15-pound Portuguese Podengo, which was just feet away from them, suddenly started barking aggressively, according to Det. Salvador Zuno, spokesman for the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office.
She woke up and saw a shadow of an animal walk through her partially open French doors and enter her bedroom.
The animal then took the small dog from the foot of her bed and walked out, he said.
With a flashlight, the woman looked for her dog, but only found large wet paw prints at the entrance of her bedroom, Zuno said.
Deputies searched the area and found paw prints similar to a mountain lion's, he said. They immediately notified the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the detective said.
"They are very shaken up about what happened," Zuno said.
The woman and her child live in the rural, coastal town of Pescadero, where residents often come across wildlife, he said.
But even in Pescadero, Zuno said, this sighting of an apparent mountain lion is rare. In the San Mateo County mountains, cougars usually eat deer and other wildlife, not pets, Zuno said.
"What's so rare and shocking about this is that the animal comes up to the property and enters the home," the detective said.
Andrew Hughan, a Fish and Wildlife spokesman, said the department is still trying to determine if the animal was a mountain lion.
"It's too early to tell," he said.
Meanwhile, Zuno said residents should take precautions and safeguard their homes. He advised residents to keep an air horn nearby and lock their windows and doors at night.