Patty Marciano was sitting on the upper back porch of her home in the Auguston area of Abbotsford last Wednesday with her beloved dog Cyrus when she caught sight of something black moving near her yard.
At first, she thought it was a raccoon rustling through the dense brush beyond the six-foot-high chain link fence bordering her backyard.
Before she could verify the source of the sound, Cyrus – a five-year-old pit bull mix – raced down the stairs and to the lower tier of the backyard.
Marciano chased after him, just in time to see Cyrus run toward a black bear that had jumped the fence.
The two animals began fighting, but the 60-pound dog was no match for the bear – about four times his size. The bear pinned Cyrus to the ground.
Marciano began striking the bear on the head with a shovel, and it took about four or five hits before the creature released its grip on Cyrus.
The dog scrambled free, and Marciano ran after him as the bear chased them both. They were able to escape up the back stairs and into the house.
Marciano immediately scooped up her badly bleeding dog, loaded him into her truck and sped to Whatcom Road Veterinary Hospital.
Cyrus was suffering from deep gashes on his head, chest and shoulder. He required numerous stitches and staples, as well as surgical drains on his shoulder and chest to prevent infection as he heals.
Cyrus was able to go home later that night and is expected to make a full recovery, although Marciano said he is traumatized by the incident.
“He’s been lying beside me all day,” she said the day after the attack.
Cyrus has also been hesitant to go in the backyard, although he did venture out there briefly with Marciano.
She is sharing her story as a cautionary tale for others. She lives on Auguston Parkway East – in the Auguston development on Sumas Mountain, and bears are spotted there on occasion, but Marciano thought her fenced property was protected.
A neighbour told her that the bear in question is a mother with two cubs. Marciano said the cubs must have been waiting on the other side of the fence at the time of the attack, but she didn’t see them in the midst of the chaos.
She worries that pets or small children could be attacked.
“If Cyrus had been a different type of breed, I don’t think he would have made it,” Marciano said.
Const. Ian MacDonald said the Abbotsford Police Department has received “a solid half dozen” reports of bears this summer in areas such as Wells Gray Avenue, DeLair Park and Whatcom Road.
He said police in these situations will try to scare the bear away from public areas and, if they are unable to do so, the provincial Conservation Officer Service is called.