Louise Robillard was out for a walk with her dog on her 35-acre property last Monday afternoon when she noticed a bear cub on the side of a trail that she was walking on.
It was then that she saw the mother of what turned out to be three cubs - a very angry, very aggressive black bear.
“Everything happened so fast,” said Robillard. “When she saw us, she charged.”
“My dog stood her ground in front of me, and she ended up attacking the dog.”
Her dog, a german shepherd mix named Shelby, ended up tumbling around with the bear in the ‘scruffy bush’ on her property, situated on Old Garden River Road.
“She was just howling in pain trying to get away from the bear,” Robillard said.
Shelby suffered extensive injuries which required emergency surgery as a result of the attack. Some of the dog’s muscles were detached from her spine, requiring more than 50 stitches and a total of six drains being inserted into the dog's back for the infection.
Shelby had the drains removed from her body Monday, but she’ll be on a diet of antibiotics and painkillers for the next week.
“I can’t say that I would’ve been killed, but I can tell you, I would’ve been hurt badly,” said Robillard. “She was angry. She was very angry.”
Robillard says that bears have been common sight in her neighbourhood in the 19 years that she’s lived in the 1000 block of Old Garden River Road, and that she’s learned how to live with them.
She takes extra precautions with her bird feeders and her compost, and says that she never feeds the dog outside.
Robillard has had chickens in the past, but hasn’t had any for two years now because of bears roaming her property.
“We’ve essentially done everything that we were supposed to do to properly live with bears,” Robillard said. “We’ve had bears all the time, and we’ve actually enjoyed seeing them.”
Shelby, acquired from the Sault Ste. Marie Humane Society ten years ago, has never done anything in the past to provoke bears or coyotes, says Robillard.
“She’s not a dog that provokes,” said Robillard. “I understand that the MNR (Ministry of Natural Resources) are concerned about dogs not being on leashes, because sometimes they can provoke a bear, but that’s not at all what she did with this sow.”
“She just - thank God for me - held her ground, because if she hadn’t, I would’ve been next.”
“I was the next one in line.”
Robillard says that while she has taken nearly every precaution listed in the Ministry of Natural Resources’ Bear Wise education material, she still has a lot of fruit and berries growing on her property that feed deer, foxes and sandhill cranes.
“We’ve got so much wildlife that are using those food sources, that it’s not feasible and it doesn’t make sense to get rid of those food sources for the rest of the animals because we have a particular bear that has become more than just a nuisance, that has become just way too bold,” Robillard said.
She worries for her neighbour, who has three young boys.
A bear wanders into their front yard, and the family has even had their shed - which is used to store garbage - broken into by a bear, says Robillard.
She says that her neighbour’s kids aren’t allowed to play outside.
“I have an uncomfortable feeling knowing that there is a bear that’s out there that is very bold,” Robillard said.