Dog injured while protecting owner from bear attack in Florida

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (WSVN) – A brutal bear attack landed a Fort Lauderdale resident’s dog in intensive care Friday night.

Three-year-old Mary Jane remains in critical care at Lauderdale Veterinary Specialists after, doctors said, she was mauled at Big Cypress Indian Reservation.

“The wounds are pretty extensive,” said Dr. Ashley Villatoro, a veterinarian at the animal hospital. “We always worry about wounds to the body wall, but in her case she was very lucky.”

Villatoro said Mary Jane’s owner, who was visiting family at the Seminole Tribe reservation, was walking the American pit bull terrier mix when, at around 9 p.m., the animal suddenly took off running.

Villatoro said she initially appeared to be playing with two bear cubs. “She managed to slip away from them and got playful with the bear cubs, and the momma came up to protect them,” she said.

Mary Jane’s move may have saved her owners’ life. They believe that their pet did that on purpose, to keep the bears away.

“They’re used as guard dogs, and they’re very loyal and very sweet to their owners, so it’s quite a possibility,” said Villatoro.

But the attack left the pooch in rough shape. She has deep puncture wounds all over her body.

Mary Jane was initially taken to Lakeside Animal Hospital in Plantation, then transferred to Lauderdale Veterinary Specialists.

Veterinarians are also treating the canine for air in her chest cavity, but they said she is reacting well to treatment. “She came in with multiple wounds all throughout the body, but we already sedated her, flushed them out, and she’s actually doing pretty well,” said Villatoro. “She’s critical in ICU but doing well.”

In a few days, doctors said, Mary Jane will be well enough to go home and lucky to have survived her up close encounter with those three wild bears.

“This is a very lethal encounter,” said Villatoro. “Not only do you have superficial wounds that could rip into the chest or the abdominal wall, but any crushing injuries internally, internal hemorrhage, things like that, so it’s very lethal, and she’s very lucky to be alive.”

Veterinarians are using the attack as an opportunity to remind pet owners that Florida is home to many types of wild animals that can hurt their pets. “Whether we’re talking bears, panthers, bobcats, alligators, venomous snakes, wild boars or bufo toads, we certainly have our share of deadly wildlife to continually be on the lookout for,” said Villatoro.

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