California Teen Fights Off Bear to Save Her Dogs: ‘the First Thing I Think to Do Is Push It’
The mama bear took swipes at her mother's service dog before nearly picking up one of 17-year-old Hailey Morinico's smaller dogs. That's when she took action.
Adrenaline and motherly instincts are a powerful combination—enough for a California teen to fight off a mother bear to save her dogs.
The jaw-dropping encounter—which was caught on a home surveillance video in Bradbury—occurred Monday, when 17-year-old Hailey Morinico heard her family's dogs making a ruckus in the backyard, according to KABC. The barking was warranted. A brown bear and her two cubs were standing on the top of the yard's low wall.
All four dogs ran toward the bear, whose cubs ran off right away. The momma bear, likely trying to protect her cubs, swipes down at Morinico's mom's black service dog. Then the bear starts to pick up one of the smaller dogs, named Valentina, Moninico says in a TikTok video explaining the ordeal.
"I look it in the eyes and the first thing I think to do is push it. Push a bear. Push an apex predator, man," she says in the video. "And to be honest, I don't think I pushed her that hard. I just pushed her enough to make her lose her balance. So she drops my dog and I run outta there."
She stops to scoop up one of the dogs as the bear climbs back onto the wall and retreats away from the yard.
Here's how it looked in the video, which has been viewed a staggering 68.6 million times on TikTok:
Frightening! In her video, Moninico said she sprained her finger in the ordeal and "screwed" her knee. All the dogs are fine, she told KABC.
"I just break down every time I see [it]. It's just horrifying to watch," her mother, Cindy Moninico, told the TV station.
We're with you on that one, mom. While the teen's actions to save her dogs were heroic and immensely dramatic—it's probably not something we should do when we see a bear in our backyard. Instead, engage the animal from a distance, naturalist Christopher Nyerges told KABC. Use a slingshot or something that makes a noisy racket to scare the bear away.
"I'm happy that nothing bad happened, but if you live in those communities, you need to be constantly alert that as the development has encroached into their native territory, you're going to have those encounters more and more," he said.