Sandi Cross says 13-year-old “Sassy” likely saved her life early Tuesday morning outside the family cottage on Jessica Lake.
“I truly believe that if Sassy hadn’t gone out when she did … the bear would have attacked me when I went out,” Cross said. “She’s my little hero.”
Cross was getting ready to leave the cottage around 6 a.m., when Sassy, a pound mutt, wanted to go outside.
“She took off across the deck … then all of a sudden turned around and was coming back in,” Cross said.
Moments later, Cross was horrified to see a large black bear attacking her dog.
“The bear dragged Sassy … further away from the door, so then I could come out,” Cross said. “I was screaming and yelling and I thought that would scare the bear.”
But the bear didn’t let go.
“I thought Sassy was being killed. I thought she was just going to be ripped to shreds,” she said.
Eventually Cross, her husband and son were able to scare the bear off briefly, and Sassy managed to get inside.
The family realized there was a cub up in a tree. After being hit with a pellet gun, the bear climbed a tree where Cross said it stayed for 11 hours.
Sassy suffered deep wounds to her neck, and is taking anti-b iotics and painkillers at home.
“At this point, we don’t want to put her through the whole major surgery and anaesthetic … We think that’s hard on her and extremely expensive,” Cross said.
A Manitoba Conservation spokesperson said the bear was likely attracted to the cottage because of garbage that had been left out.
“We have been seeing with this very dry weather, the quality of the berries is going down,” said Kelly Leavesley, a regional wildlife manager for Manitoba Conservation. “There has been some concern with reduced natural foods, it may be more common for bears to venture closer to humans looking for food.”
Cross said the family typically removes garbage from their cottage area, however she admitted that on Tuesday they had left some garbage out by mistake.
“Knowing how to make sure that you’re not providing attractants that will encourage bears to come close to you and your property is … one of the most important messages that we can get out to people,” Leavesley said.
Tips to stay safe include taking down all bird-feeders, double bag garbage and put in bear-resistant containers, clean garbage bins with bleach and keep pet food indoors.