04/15/2015 01:54 EDT | Updated 04/15/2015 01:59 EDT

Elvis Xerri, Priddis Man, Fights Off Cougar Attacking Girlfriend's Dog

Shutterstock / MaZiKab

It's a battle no one hopes to ever encounter in Alberta, but Elvis Xerri has lived to tell the tale.

The Priddis man has a few bumps and bruises, but is lucky he wasn't more seriously injured after fighting off a cougar that attacked his girlfriend's dog Monday morning.

Xerri told the Calgary Herald he and his girlfriend, Jacqui, were sleeping in the house on his acreage southwest of Calgary, while her Bernese mountain dog dozed outside.

Around 3 a.m. he awoke to the dog's yelps.

What he thought was likely a coyote turned out to be a massive cougar on top of the dog.

"I jumped on top of the cougar. I grabbed its back skin and threw it away from the dog (but) the cougar came back and it bit the dog’s head," he recounted to the Calgary Sun.

Xerri went on the attack once again, this time holding onto the dog's hindquarters while screaming at the cat, face-to-face. His vocal display scared off the animal, which ran off into the nearby woods.

Xerri told the Herald that the dog was taken to hospital, but only had a few small teeth marks where the cougar had it by the head.

Human encounters with cougars have been on the rise in recent years across Alberta, and CBC News reports the province's cougar population has tripled over the past 10 years.

Tyler McClure, a spokesman for conservation group WildSmart, told CBC that as the population continues to grow the animals are reclaiming land where they historically lived.

"Most of this expansion we're seeing is coming from the west of Alberta in the mountains, moving towards the east and a little towards the north — so starting to encompass... cities like Edmonton and Calgary," he said in an interview last month.

However, McClure said interaction between humans and cougars is not something Albertans should worry about, because cougars rarely attack.

In fact, he said, there have only been 27 cases of cougars attacking humans across Canada in the past century.

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