(NEXSTAR) – A 61-year-old woman who survived a bear attack in Vermont over the weekend is crediting her Jack Russell terrier with their escape, according to Fish and Wildlife officials.
Susan Lee was walking the terrier and her labradoodle along a trail on her property in Strafford Saturday when the bear surprised her. She later told Game Warden Sergeant Jeffrey Whipple and Game Warden Kyle Isherwood that she had lost sight of her dogs and recalled them just before hearing a loud noise and seeing the bear charge at her.
Lee said she tripped on a stone wall, and then the bear was on top of her. When she felt pain in her upper left leg, she knew the bear had bitten down on her.
The attack was cut short by her Jack Russell terrier, a breed that usually stands about 1 foot tall and weighs between 13 and 17 pounds.
“Ms. Lee stated that her Jack Russel terrier intervened by barking at the bear, which got off her and appeared to focus on the dog,” officials stated in a news release. Lee said she and the terrier managed to retreat down the trail, and the bear took off in another direction. The labradoodle would make it home later, according to USA Today.
Whipple told the outlet that the Jack Russell had to execute “some ninja moves” to keep the bear from injuring it.
Despite the bite wound to her leg and “multiple scratches between two and nine inches long on both her sides,” Lee managed to get home safely and text a friend to take her to the hospital for treatment. She also called 911 to report the attack.
Isherwood responded to the scene of the attack with Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department Bear Biologist Jaclyn Comeau, and the two concluded that the bear, who they weren’t able to locate, was likely a female with cubs that was provoked when Lee and her dogs surprised them.
“Bear attacks are extremely rare in Vermont,” said Comeau, adding that the department has records of only three prior bear attacks in the state. “However, at this time of year, black bears are moving in family units, and mothers will be protective of their cubs. If confronted by a bear, it is essential to remain calm and back away slowly, and to fight back immediately if attacked.”
Lee was treated at an area hospital where Whipple and Isherwood interviewed her about the attack and warned her of the danger of rabies. Nexstar asked about the results of a possible rabies test, but the department did not respond by publishing time.
Lee’s injuries were described as “non-life-threatening.”