SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — The California Department of Fish and Wildlife says mountain lion attacks are rare, but it happened to one woman on Monday.

Sharon Houston was driving along Highway 299 near Big Bar in Trinity County on Monday afternoon when she saw a woman frantically jumping up and down and thought there must have been an accident.

Houston then stopped her car and got out.

“She told me her dog had been attacked by a mountain lion,” Houston explained.

The woman was identified as 24-year-old Erin Wilson from a GoFundMe page she created for Eva, her 2-year-old Belgian Malinois. Wilson calls Eva her hero and credits her dog for saving her life. 

The lion initially attacked Wilson as she walked with Eva on a trail near Trinity River.

“The mountain lion was on her and swiped her across her left shoulder. She let out a scream, the dog immediately turned and went after the lion, and they ended up in a vicious fight,” said Capt. Patrick Foy, with the Fish and Wildlife. “The woman was afraid she was gonna lose her dog, and she was trying to pull them apart, was hitting them and pulling at them and tugging at them. And she even tried to gouge at the lion’s eyes and could not get the lion to let go of her dog.”

Without a thought for her own safety, Houston jumped out of her car after grabbing pepper spray and a 4-foot PVC pipe that was molded into an archery bow, which she had picked up at a renaissance fair. 

“I can’t let her face this mountain lion by herself,” Houston recalled. 

She hurried to catch up to Wilson, thinking she’d see the injured dog lying alone.

“The mountain lion had the dog by the neck, and so I was like, ‘OK, this is happening.’ I start hitting it in the head, and she’s hitting it with her baton. And honestly, when I was hitting it, it was like this solid thump that’s not really affecting it,” Houston said.

Houston described the lion as twice the size of Eva. She also noticed the lion’s ribs and cloudy-looking eyes, thinking it was old or sick.

Once it finally backed away from Wilson, it took a swipe at the women.

“Its ears were back, and as it was bearing its teeth at us, I opened up my pepper spray and just started hosing that thing’s face down — eyes, nose, mouth,” Houston said.

The lion then took off. 

“That dog is not yet out of the woods, so we are hoping for the best,” Foy said.

“She gave me a hug, and I hugged her back. I was just so glad I was there,” Houston recalled.