A dog owner in Labrador City is warning others to respect wildlife after his German shepherd was savaged by wolves.

"Baby," Mike O'Neill's 13-year-old dog, was killed outside his cabin on Smokey Mountain about five minutes outside of town.

"I got back Wednesday night and the door was open, and there was no sign of the dog," he said. It wasn't unusual for Baby to push open the door herself to go outside, he said. It was unusual for her not to return, but he thought Baby — being a friendly dog — may have been picked up by someone thinking she was a stray.

But when he went search for her the next morning, he didn't have to go very far — just about 130 feet down the beach in front his cabin.

"I found the dog's head, and just the head," he said. "I was shocked, and my first thought was actually, 'Who would do this?'"

babywithkids

Baby, Mike O'Neill's 13-year-old German shepherd, is seen here with children of a co-worker of his. (Submitted)

But as he walked back along the beach, he noticed claw marks in the sand, bigger than Baby's, and called police, who contacted provincial Wildlife officials.

"We came up and really looked around and did find evidence that it was indeed a wolf attack," he said. Baby was an 85-pound dog, he said, so he'd never really worried about other animals in the woods. He'd spotted the occasional wolf, but very rarely, and he never thought one would attack a full-grown dog.

O'Neil said it took a little time for the loss of his dog to sink in.

"I've got a very empty cabin right now," he said. "My dog Baby had a very good life. … I've never owned a leash since I owned her. Having her on a leash in a cabin in the woods wouldn't have saved her."

He said people need to remember where they live.

"This is Labrador," he said. "There is wildlife around. … It's indigenous to the region. I'm not even angry at the wolves. Why would I be angry at a wolf for being a wolf? I'm deeply saddened over the loss of my dog, but I think we have to respect the country that we live in, and we have to be aware that if you do see a wolf, these are wild animals."

With files from Lindsay Bird