A Vancouver Island man whose miniature Dachshund was snatched by a starving cougar last week managed to save his frightened pet by punching the wildcat in the face.

Langford resident Shawn Hanson was on a fishing trip near Ucluelet on Friday when a scrawny-looking cougar grabbed his dog, Bailey, in its jaws and took off.

“Out of the corner of my eye I see a little flash,” he said. “I look down and it’s a small cougar dragging my dog off into the bushes.”

Without thinking, Hanson sprang into action to save the young pup.

Soon enough, he caught up to the cougar on a hill, sprang forward and grabbed onto its rear end. He got ahold of Bailey using his other hand, but the cougar wouldn’t let go.

“At that point there it was still hanging on so I reached back and I punched it in the face,” Hanson said. “It stunned it enough that it dropped my dog, so I scooped up my dog and pulled back.”

The dog suffered a few small puncture wounds, but was otherwise unharmed.

Hanson said he gave Bailey to a friend, grabbed his rifle and headed out to the find the cat, intending to scare it off.

But when he found the cougar and fired off a warning shot, he said the animal was unfazed. When the cougar started making small lunges in his direction, Hanson said made the difficult choice to put it down.

“It just kept staring at me,” he said. “It only had about 10 feet and it would have been on me, so I had to make that decision unfortunately.”

He reported the incident to the RCMP and conservation officers, who said they had received several reports of sightings in the area and were tracking the starving animal.

They also said Hanson’s actions were ultimately justified.

“Before [cougars] starve to death, they’ll do anything to survive,” said human-wildlife conflict specialist Mike Badry. “It that cougar had been a little bit bigger, stronger and more motivated, it could’ve caused some damage.”

It’s unlikely that charges will result from the cougar’s death, Badry added.

Hanson said he’s not proud of the fact he killed a cougar, but he would do whatever it takes to protect Bailey.

“If it wouldn’t have attacked me, it would have attacked somebody else,” he said.

Experts encourage people who encounter a cougar to make themselves look big, make eye contact and never turn their back on the animal.

Sightings can be reported to the BC Conservation Officer Service at 1-877-952-7277.

With files from CTV Vancouver’s Scott Hurst and CTV Vancouver Island's Jeff Lawrence