When Brooke Collins saw a black bear snatch up her Dachshund in her Juneau, Alaska, neighborhood early Sunday evening, she did what any pet parent might – or might not – do.
She punched the bear in the snout and grabbed her dog.
“It was all so fast. All I could think about was my dog was going to die,” Collins, 22, told the Juneau Empire. “It was a stupid thing but I couldn’t help it. I know you’re not supposed to do that, but I didn’t want my dog to be killed.”
Collins didn’t notice the bear in her yard when she let her two dogs – the Dachshund, named Fudge, and Toki, her Pomeranian – out around 7:30. Fudge immediately started barking.
“It was the most horrible sound in the world,” Collins said.
She looked outside and saw Fudge in the paws of a crouching bear, which was biting the back of the dog’s neck. “That bear was carrying her like a salmon,” Collins said.
Although the next few moments are a blur, Collins said she remembered hearing that some animals will retreat if they’re punched in the nose. So that’s exactly what Collins did, then she grabbed Fudge as the bear let go of the dog.
Collins’ boyfriend, Regan O’Toole, told the Juneau Empire that he ran outside when he heard his girlfriend screaming. He said the punched bear looked startled. As O’Toole ran toward the bear, it took off down the driveway and headed to nearby Mount Juneau.
Fudge seems to be in good condition, although a little rattled. Despite her ordeal, the dog only has some superficial claw and bite marks.
Collins, who only suffered a minor bite on her thumb, is keeping an eye on Fudge to make sure the wounds don’t become infected.
Black bears are a common sight in the neighborhood, according to Collins. She said she thought she had seen that bear before, and it had no fear of people.
“It’s definitely changed my opinion, because I never thought one would attack my dog,” Collins said. “I wasn’t in my right mind at the moment, but I would never think of doing it again.”
A man in Buncombe County, N.C., was almost as lucky when a black bear attacked his Scottish Terrier Tuesday morning.
Digtriad.com reports that Rick Hall suffered cuts and puncture wounds when he gave the bear “a few good whacks,” according to his mother-in-law, Pat Conner. His dog is recovering from several deep puncture wounds, but is expected to survive.
Brad Howard, a biologist with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, told Digtriad.com that it’s rare for black bears to attack humans, and most of their interactions with dogs are confrontations.
“In general, during this time of year when bears are roaming, my advice is to look outside and make sure the coast is clear before you let your dog out,” Howard said. “I always tell people that bears are big animals and they don’t want to hurt us, but you have to show them respect.”
If you live in an area frequented by wildlife, here are tips for keeping your dog safe.