A man from Michigan went toe-to-toe against a black bear to save his dog

Wild American black bear, Ursus americanus, in field of Hawkweed,Hieracium pratense, Northern Ontario, Canada
Credit: Getty/All Canada Photos

A brave pet-owner from Michigan went toe-to-toe against a black bear to save his dog’s life — and won.

According to a report from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, an unidentified man walked out of his home just before sunrise in early May and noticed a black bear running toward his beloved pet beagle. As the bear swung its claws at the frantic and barking dog, the man did his best to get his pet to safety—but in the chaos, the beagle’s leash became tangled around a collection of objects outside.

“When his beagle barked at the bear it circled around and swatted at the dog as the owner frantically tried to pull him in,” the DNR report reads, “only to have the [leash] get tangled.”

The man then placed himself in harm’s way and kicked the bear with all his might, which got the animal to momentarily stop the attack and retreat. While this bought the man enough time to begin untangling the leash, the bear came back and bit the dog.

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With the situation escalating and no other options at his disposal, the man punched the bear square in the nose, stunning the animal long enough to get his beagle back inside, while making sure the door was shut behind them.

The beagle later received several stitches to its side and rear end.

DNR conservation officer Andrea Erratt responded to the man’s complaint, according to the report, and the officer gave him some advice to keep other black bears — the only species of bear in the state—away in the future.

“CO Erratt advised the homeowner to remove all his bird feeders, clean up all the sunflower seed husks, spread some moth balls,” the reports says, “and stop feeding corn to the deer and turkeys in the backyard.”

Bear attacks are also extremely uncommon, but in case one happens, the National Park Service has guidelines for what to do. If you’re ever attacked by a brown bear, the safest thing to do, the NPS says, is to lay flat on your stomach and place your hands over your neck. If this sounds familiar, that’s because it’s essentially the age-old advice of “playing dead.” The NPS adds that attempting to fight the bear will only intensify the attack.

If the encounter is with a black bear, such as in this case, the NPS advises against playing dead. Instead, they recommend running to a secure place — like a vehicle — or to kick the animal in the face if it attacks.