Animal Attacks – Bear / Dogs And What To Do Next

Summer is just around the corner and with it comes all of the amazing outdoor activities that Mother Nature provides.

That said ever since man and animal have been sharing this earth there have been occasions where one has attacked and killed the other.  Generally speaking animals aren’t predisposed to want to attack humans and will only do so if:

  1. Scared / startled
  2. Very hungry
  3. Injured / sick
  4. Protecting offspring

One of the SEALs (who shall remain nameless) I had the honor of working with in my first platoon at SEAL Team 2 was the victim of a wild animal attack.  Imaging this – the guy had spent the better part of 20 years in some of the most hostile places on this planet. Survived countless combat situations in addition to walking away from 3 – that’s right 3 helicopter crashes.  And he almost gets killed by a deer while jogging in Germany!

Bear

Brown bears (aka Grizzly bear) are the most widespread bear species in the world, found across much of Eurasia and northwestern North America. They’re generally bigger and more aggressive than black bears, but color alone isn’t a reliable way to tell them apart. In addition to their larger size the most distinguishing feature of a Brown bear is the hump of muscles in its upper back.

The American black bear is North America’s smallest and most common bear, with some 900,000 ranging from Alaska to the Atlantic. American black bears occasionally attack humans, but since they’re smaller, faster and better climbers than grizzlies, they’d usually rather flee than fight.

Surviving a bear encounter

  1. Be aware. Clearly avoiding an encounter with a bear is the best way to avoid a bear attack. If you think bears are in the area, talk, sing or make other noises to let them know you’re there, too — without surprising them. If you see a bear that doesn’t see you, don’t disturb it. Unattended food and trash are surefire bear magnets, even if they’re tied up. Try to produce minimal waste when camping or hiking, and secure all food and trash carefully. Bears are also sometimes lured by dogs, so it may be wise to leave pets at home.
  2. Always carry bear spray.This is a must-have in grizzly country, preferably in a holster or front pocket since you’ll just have a few seconds to fire. (Bear spray can actually be more useful than a gun for bears, since one or two bullets may not stop a full-grown adult quickly enough.)
  3. Stand your ground.If you do meet a bear, stand tall, stay calm and slowly reach for your bear spray. Demonstrate yourself to be large and loud, and they’ll usually leave you alone. Shout, wave your arms and create a commotion. Use sticks or other objects to make yourself look even bigger.  Don’t worry if the bear stands up — that usually just means it’s curious. Back away slowly if you can, still ready to spray. If the bear follows you, stop and stand your ground. They often bluff charges, and the best strategy is to stay in place with bear spray ready to fire if the bear gets too close.
  4. Never run. Bears can run at speeds exceeding 35 mph and tend to chase anything that’s running away. Don’t climb a tree, black bears are excellent climbers and will follow.
  5. Aim and spray.The best distance to spray a charging bear is about 40 to 50 feet. The idea is to create a wall of pepper spray between you and the bear.

Brown Bears / Grizzly

  1. Hit the dirt.If the bear keeps charging, fall down and lace your fingers over the back of your neck to protect it. Guard your stomach by lying flat on the ground or by assuming a fetal position, with knees tucked under your chin. Don’t move.
  2. Play dead.Even if the bear starts to attack, it’s likely trying to neutralize you as a threat. And since you’ll never outrun or overpower it, faking death is your best bet at this point. Even if it walks away, don’t get up. Grizzlies are known to linger and make sure you’re dead, so stay down for at least 20 minutes.
  3. Box its nose or eyes.This could feasibly thwart a grizzly attack, but only fight back as a last resort. Playing dead is the preferred strategy with grizzlies. If you can get free, though, back away slowly; still don’t run.

Black Bears

Fight back. Unless you’re physically unable, it’s often better to defend yourself against a black bear than to curl up on the ground. Keep making noise and looking large throughout the encounter, but if you end up at close range, use any nearby object as a weapon to fend off the bear. If nothing useful is around, punch or kick the bear’s nose. Do whatever is needed to scare it away, but focus on sensitive areas that are likely to get an immediate reaction. Try to create space between you and the bear, but never run away — make the bear do that.

IF IT’S BLACK – FIGHT BACK.  IF IT’S BROWN – LAY DOWN (PLAY DEAD).

DOGS

To many of us that own dogs the term “mans best friend” couldn’t be more accurate.  The degree of loyalty from a dog is unparalleled in this world. But as with any animal with teeth sometimes mans best friend becomes our worst enemy.

In 2018 there were 39 fatal dog attacks in the USA. More than 350,000 dog bite victims are seen in emergency rooms every year. Approximately 800,000 victims receive some form of medical attention annually.

I am a true believer in the phrase – there are no bad dogs, just bad owners.  The majority of dog attacks occur because of lack of containment or poor/no training.  And since there will probably be no shortage of bad owners this is what you should do to avoid a dog attack.

Dogs and children

A dog can be intimidated by the physical size of an adult, but not by a child who is about the same size. It is important to remember that in the dog’s mind the family is a pack unit and everyone in that family has a certain “position” in the pack. In most families, one or both of the parents are considered the pack leaders and the dog is subordinate to them. But when small children are involved, dogs almost always consider the children equal or lower in the pack hierarchy than they are, and this is where the problem arises. Always remember dogs are animals, and even the best animals can act in unpredictable ways for unknown reasons.

Avoiding the attack

  1. Do not aggravate a dog. Avoid eye contact and smiling. If it sees your teeth as you stare at it, it may assume you are being aggressive and can respond accordingly.
  2. Dogs that are chained or tied to a stationary object for long periods of time are more likely to become aggressive. Stay well clear.
  3. Don’t assume that only certain breeds are dangerous. Just about any dog can cause injury.
  4. Pay attention to a dog’s body language. A low or high head position or a lopping gate generally means NOT aggressive.  A dog whose head is level and has an even, steady gait is trouble.
  5. Remain calm and hold your position. Standing sideways to the dog and keeping the dog in your peripheral vision instead of facing them and making eye contact, will signal to the dog that you are not a threat. A loud verbal command like “DOWN” may be enough to defuse the situation.
  6. DON’T RUN – Running away can awaken the dog’s prey instinct to chase and catch animals, and he may pursue you vigorously even if its initial intent was just playful. 

When Attacked

  1. If the dog gets a hold of you it will tug and shake the wound inflicting more damage. Protect your face, chest, and throat, limiting puncture wounds to areas of your body that have thicker skin.
  2. FIGHT BACK. If you cannot easily escape from its grasp, use your entire body weight on the animal specifically with your knees or elbows. Dogs cannot wrestle and you will break their bones fairly quickly. Get on the animal and concentrate force on areas such as the throat or ribs while being careful to keep your face out of clawing/biting range.

Much like a knife fight – he who bleeds least wins!

  1. Multiple dogs, going for eyes, nose and limbs will prove most effective versus tackling/crushing one dog at a time. In a pack, they will attack as a group and if they feel they are unable to pull it off, will quit as a group.

Taking away the fight

  • Pick up the dog by his hind legs
  • Wrap the dogs head in a towel or coat
  • Spray with strong stream of water
  • Strike the dog across the back of the neck at the base of the skull 

After the attack

  1. Back away slowly
  2. Contact authorities/animal control
  3. Attempt to locate owner and get specific information about the dog regarding vaccinations specifically rabies
  4. Get medical attention. 

 

Cade Courtley
Former Navy SEAL / 4Patriots Contributor

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