An Indiana man owes his life, in part, to the bravery of his smaller, Labrador-mix named Henry.
Steven Krichbaum, a 59-year-old, was able to escape an unprovoked bear attack on Thursday afternoon in a West Virginia park because his dog helped defend him against the bear while he himself tried to hit it, the Frederick County Sheriff’s Department said in a news release.
The sheriff’s department said that Krichbaum was visiting the George Washington National Forest in Hardy County with Henry when the pair came upon a black bear with two cubs. The momma bear went after Krichbaum, who according to Northern Virginia Daily hit it with a rock while his dog also tried to fend the larger animal off.
Eventually, Kritchbaum and Henry scrambled away to their car and drove to a nearby fruit market in Virginia to call 911.
“He was really bleeding out, ” Eddie Richard, who owns Richard’s Fruit Market, told the Northern Virginia Daily of the incident. “He had a huge open gash on his forearm.”
“He had claw marks and gashes,” Cathy Patterson, a friend of Richard’s, said.
Kritchbaum was transported to a nearby medical center while Henry was taken to an animal hospital. The sheriff’s department said the official condition of the man and his canine were not known at the time.
Update: The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries told TheBlaze in an emailed statement that if the dog had been leashed in the first place, it might never have needed to defend its owner.
“After disturbing a family of bears, the dog chased after and began attacking the cubs,” the statement read. “As a result the sow charged at the man and focused her defense of cubs on him. When the dog began to attack the sow it gave the man a chance to find a rock and hit the bear in order to scare her off. While this situation is tragic, there would have likely been a far different outcome were the dog not involved.”
The department said the man and dog suffered severe injuries in the attack. It noted that while attacks like this are rare, owners are advised to keep dogs leashed in areas where bear might be found as an added precaution.
(H/T: Daily Mail)