A large bull moose spent more than an hour trampling on a sled dog team in the wilds of Alaska.
Novice Iditarod musher Bridgett Watkins fired shots at the animal after it seriously injured four of her dogs, but it continued its attack.
She said the ordeal only ended after she called friends for help, one of whom arrived with a high-powered rifle and killed the moose with one shot.
“This has been the most horrific past 24 hours of my life,” she posted on Facebook after the attack on the Salcha River trail system near Fairbanks on Thursday.
But just days later, her four dogs are on the mend and she is back training with the others.
“This isn’t what I was planning for, but these dogs and myself have trained for so long and so hard for this race … when I walk back out to my dog yard and I have 12 perfectly healthy dogs out of the 16 and they look at me and all they want to do is run, how can I tell them no?” she told the Associated Press. “That would be selfish of me.”
“These are freaking amazing athletes that just survived probably the most traumatic experience of any dog team ever in history, and they’re survivors and they’re still pushing through,” she added.
Ms Watkins said the attack, first reported by the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, happened while she was on a 52-mile (83.7km) training run for the nearly 1,000-mile (1,609km) Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. It starts in Anchorage on March 5
“As he charged me I emptied my gun into him and he never stopped,” she wrote on Facebook. “I ran for my life and prayed I was fast enough to not be killed in that moment. He trampled the team and then turned for us.”
Watkins said she and a friend who was trailing her on a snowmobile took refuge next to the vehicle.
The moose stopped its charge towards them about 2ft (0.6m) from the snowmobile and she managed to cut free six dogs that were tied to the machine.
But the moose went back to her sled and began stamping on the dogs that were still tethered to it – standing over them and trampling them repeatedly for more than an hour.
“I have never felt so helpless in my life,” Ms Watkins wrote. “He would not leave us alone and he even stood over top of the team refusing to retreat.”
She called friends and the moose was killed after one arrived with a rifle.
Alaska State Troopers had been preparing a helicopter to respond but stopped doing so after they were told the moose was dead, agency spokesman Tim DeSpain said.
The four injured dogs were taken to a vet in the nearby community of North Pole and are now recovering, Ms Watkins said.
The experience has shaken her, she said, but it is no different from what other people face.
“I’m just trying to face those fears every day because they’re there. It’s not that I’m not scared and I’m not terrified and that I don’t nearly have a panic attack when I’m on the sled and I think I see a moose in front of me,” she said.
“It’s not that those things aren’t occurring … people have these situations in their life all the time. They’re just different obstacles that they have to overcome, and this is mine, and this is my story, and I just hope that I can be inspiring.”
Meat from the moose that attacked her dogs was donated to charity.