A 5-pound toy poodle named Pickle is being called a hero after jumping between its owner and a bear inside a North Carolina home Friday morning, according to TV station WLOS.
However, Pickle died as a result of his bravery, owner Tiffany Merrill said on Facebook. She told WNCN that the bear likely weighed 150 to 200 pounds and showed no fear of humans once it was inside her Black Mountain home, about 17 miles east of Asheville.
“There was nothing I could do,” Merrill told WLOS. “I wanted to go out there and jump on the back of the bear and save my dog.”
The ordeal occurred just before 6 a.m. Friday when Merrill opened a door to let her dog out, she wrote on Facebook.
“A bear come hauling ass in my house, my dog jumped in front of me to save my life,” she said in a series of posts. “The bear was right in my face...It jumped (on) my couch to try and get me.”
Merrill said she immediately began screaming for her children to close their doors, so the bear could not get into their rooms. “I thought I was going to die,” she said on Facebook.
Pickle saved her by first barking to distract the bear and then chasing it out of the house, she told WNCN.
However, once outside, the dog proved no match for the bear, she said. She says her 19-year-old son got the dog away from the bear, but it was too late.
Merrill rushed Pickle to an animal hospital for surgery, but the dog was too badly wounded, she said on Facebook. “My hero died saving me from a bear,” she wrote. “We lost a big part of our family.”
The Asheville animal hospital that treated the dog confirmed to the Charlotte Observer that it had been attacked by a bear.
Merrill posted that she herself sprained an ankle and hurt her back trying to escape the bear, but was otherwise uninjured.
The family is now looking for motion detector lights to put outside, to frighten bears away, she said on Facebook.
Bears are common in that part of western North Carolina, and Merrill says she has had as many as three at a time in her yard.
However, she believes the one that came into her home had been fed by people, making it dangerous.
“I’ve always enjoyed looking at the bears. (Bears) have always fascinated me,” she wrote. “People need to be more aware how about they actually are. I have seen hundreds of bears, but none have ever done anything like this.”
The NC Wildlife Resources Commission said Tuesday the department is investigating the case, said Colleen Olfenbuttel, a state black bear biologist.
She says heavy rains have hurt the bear population’s natural food supplies, such as berries and acorns, and they are now going into neighborhoods to eat out of garbage cans, bird feeders and pet food bowls.
“As a result, the commission has received an increase in reports regarding bear sightings and would like to remind the public not to feed bears, intentionally or unintentionally,” Olfenbuttel said. “It trains them to approach homes and people for food, which risks their safety and the public’s safety.“