A homeowner came face to face with a mountain lion early Sunday morning in a remote, wooded area of Placerville after it attacked her 45-pound dog.

Susan McPherson knew something was wrong after her dog, Mate, ran into the backyard at 3:30 a.m., and she did not hear his usual barking.

So she followed him - and spotted a mountain lion.

"I saw a large cat walking away," McPherson said. "I yelled at it. And he turned his head, and there was this gray dog (in the mountain lion's mouth) ... like a rag doll. So, I'm like, 'This can't be my dog.'"

Mate is a 12-year-old Australian cattle dog with arthritis.

"I continued to approach (the mountain lion)," McPherson said. "I'm yelling at him and I'm shining my light. He gets down to the pond -- he goes up to the other side. And he releases my dog, and this limp body just collapses."

While trying to ward off the mountain lion with threats and a flashlight, McPherson picked Mate up with one arm and struggled back uphill toward her home.

"He has a lot of injuries," she said. "There are about 20 puncture wounds. He's got two drains. He's in a lot of pain, with damage to the ear."

A local veterinarian said there are a handful of attacks in the Placerville area each year, but usually, mountain lions go after much smaller pets.

McPherson thought the 6-foot-fence in the backyard would've protected her and her family from a mountain lion.

Now, she plans on adding motion sensors and building an enclosed pen for Mate.

To ward off mountain lions, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife suggests installing motion-sensitive lighting, trimming brush to reduce hiding places and avoiding plants that deer like to eat, since deer can draw mountain lions to an area.