Jack Russell Terrier Saves Owner From Bear Attack Thanks to "Ninja Moves"

Fearless dog startles the bear.

Jack Russell terriers aren't the most fearsome of dog breeds—about the size of a breadbox, their most famous representative is probably Eddie from the classic sitcom Frasier. Probably not the type you'd expect to rescue its owner from a black bear attack. But that's exactly what happened in Vermont last week, when a Jack Russell's bark shooed away a bear that had chomped down on a 61-year-old woman's leg. Read on to find out how it all went down, why the bear attacked, and how a small dog was a big hero.

1
Women and Unpreposessing Pets Encounter Bear

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According to a news release by the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department, Susan Lee was walking on a trail on her property on Aug. 20 with her two dogs, a Jack Russell terrier and a labradoodle. She heard a loud noise and looked up to see a black bear charging in her direction. Startled, she tripped over a stone wall and felt "pain on her upper left leg," realizing the bear had bitten her. The attack was averted when her Jack Russell started barking.

2
Terrier's Small Bark Startles Big Bear

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The terrier's vocalization startled the bear, which released Lee's leg and appeared to focus on the dog. The woman and her pets were able to escape down a trail, where she called 911. A neighbor took Lee to a nearby hospital, where she was treated for minor injuries and released.

3
Bear Determined to Be Female With Cubs

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Lee had a bite wound on her left leg and multiple scratches ranging from two inches to nine inches long on both legs. Although wildlife officials haven't been able to locate the bear, they've determined it was a female with cubs that, surprised by Lee and her dogs, attacked in self-defense, giving Lee a "warning bite."

4
Terrier's "Ninja Moves" Saved the Day

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Lee's dogs were uninjured. The Jack Russell stepped up by performing "some ninja moves," Game Warden Sgt. Jeffrey Whipple told USA Today—the little guy psyched out the much larger predator by unexpectedly diverting its focus. "If I were to predict what would have happened if the dog wasn't there, the bear may have caused more damage to (Lee)," Whipple said. "But most likely, when she was knocked down and was out of the fight, the bear would have got off of her and retreated."

5
What Should You Do If You Encounter a Black Bear?

Aggressive black bear
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Black bears are shy and don't often encounter humans; the attack on Lee was "extremely rare," a Vermont bear biologist said in the news release. Only three bear attacks have been previously recorded in the state. "However, at this time of year black bears are moving in family units and mothers will be protective of their cubs," the official said. "If confronted by a bear it is essential to remain calm and back away slowly, and to fight back immediately if attacked."

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor whose health and lifestyle content has also been published on Beachbody and Openfit. A contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, he has also been published in New York, Architectural Digest, Interview, and many others. Read more
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