CRYSTAL LAKE, Ill. (WBBM) — A Crystal Lake man says his pet Chihuahua is traumatized after a close encounter with a great horned owl last week.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Regine Schlesinger reports, George Kalomiris says before dawn this past Wednesday, he was walking his 4-pound pet dog, Chico, outside.

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LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Regine Schlesinger reports

Suddenly, the owl swooped down and attacked the Chihuahua, prompting Kalomiris quickly to grab his dog.

“I lunged at Chico and the owl, and came within a couple feet of the owl as it started flying backwards and it released Chico, and so I grabbed Chico up and ran into the house with him crying the whole way,” Kalomiris said.

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A veterinarian told Kalomiris that if not for the winter vest Chico was wearing, the owl’s sharp talons would have pierced the dog’s heart and likely killed him. Chico only had a superficial puncture wound, the Northwest Herald reported.

The owl had a 5-foot wingspan, and the bird’s talons can apply from 200 to 300 pounds of pressure per square inch, according to the Northwest Herald.

Chico is safe, but traumatized, now refusing to go outside at all if it’s dark.

“Even if we’ve got the lights on outside, he doesn’t want to go outside,” Kalomiris said.

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Kalomiris’ warns pet owners: “The wild animals are out there, and if they’re hungry enough, they might go for your pet. You can’t just let them out in the backyard. You’ve got to take them for walks, and clean up after them. That’s what we do.”