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‘I have to save my dog’ -- Michigan woman scares off black bear to rescue pup

GRAYLING, Mich. – Not many people have come face-to-face with a bear enough to understand how scary of a situation it can be.

Heather Willobee said it wasn’t the first time she crossed paths with a bear, but April 18 was different.

The Grayling resident said it was like a normal night, but something was off when she let 8-year-old Lucy out into the yard.

“I could see her in the light and I knew she was coming," Willobee said. "But I also knew she wasn’t coming alone and that something big was right behind her.”

A 300 pound black bear had tussled with Lucy and was chasing her home.

Willobee said she was able to get Lucy inside and realized she needed to go to the vet immediately, but the bear was still outside.

“Normally you can bang pots and pans or yell at them and they’ll run away," Willobee said. "This bear was not doing that.”

In an effort to scare the bear away, she used the panic button for her truck and, after checking thoroughly, she got Lucy into her vehicle.

Once Lucy was in the backseat, Willobee turned around and saw the bear was back.

“It didn’t move. It just kept eye contact,” Willobee said. "I kept eye contact and I was just like, ‘I don’t have time for you, bear. I need to save my dog.’”

Calmly and swiftly, Willobee moved to the driver’s seat and began her pursuit to the Traverse City Bay Area Pet Hospital.

She was unable to go inside due to the COVID-19 outbreak, so she remained in her car, not knowing how badly Lucy was injured.

Lucy had to undergo surgery as a result of the claw marks on her torso, shoulders and paws. She was allowed to return home Monday.

“She is walking and eating, drinking,” Willobee said. “The road to recovery is going to be a long one for her.”

A GoFundMe has been set up to help pay for Lucy’s vet bills. You can donate here.


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