SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. — Residents of a Seminole County neighborhood were on high alert Wednesday because of an aggressive bear that killed one dog and seriously injured another in recent days.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission set traps in The Estates at Springs Landing subdivision along Markham Woods Road near Longwood to try to catch the bear, which killed a dog late Tuesday, days after injuring another.
The bear tore through a pool screen Tuesday and grabbed Maggie, Russell Nusynowitz's 15-year-old poodle.
His wife ran into the home as the bear killed the family dog and took her into the yard.
The attack came two days after Rick Mann encountered a bear and two yearlings in his garage. FWC believes the same bear was involved in both attacks.
When his 5-year-old Maltese Yorkie mix, Reese, barked, the bear attacked, clamping down on the dog twice.
"When she came back the second time, I grabbed whatever I could," Mann said. "There was a vacuum cleaner there. I started swinging at her."
Reese underwent five hours of surgery.
"He's got seven puncture wounds, a bruised liver, a bruised kidney, numerous lacerations," said Roxane Mann, Rick Mann's wife. "Just a lot of issues. But he's hanging tough."
Roxanne Mann said that the bear had opened the refrigerator in the garage and helped herself to the food it contained, showing no fear of humans.
"The fact that she was starting to leave the garage and then came back to attack for the second time was very uncommon for a bear," Rick Mann said.
Word is spreading about the brave dog who stood up to the bear to protect his owner. The veterinarian who has been treating Reese has collected more than $1,000 in donations to help pay the vet bills.
"This is just an anomaly," Roxanne Mann said. "This mama bear is just a bad bear and she's overprotective."
Abelardo Urdialas said he recently spotted three bears near his home, so he's keeping his pets indoors until they're captured.
"It was ... the first time that I saw bears so close," he said.
Resident Tracy Slaughter said she's also taking extra precautions with her pets.
"Usually, I just let them out in the backyard. And instead of just freely letting them out, I'm sort of surveying the area first just to make sure," she said. "Usually, the bears are friendly and they're afraid of us as much as we're afraid of them. But in this case, if they get aggressive, that's not a good thing."
Wildlife officers have posted a sign warning residents to keep their garage doors closed because of the bears.
"Protect the animals with the trap," Urdialas said. "But at the same time, consider the situation with our families."
Cox Media Group