A rural Montgomery woman was rescued from a vicious bear attack Wednesday night by an unlikely hero — her 3-year-old Chihuahua-mix dog named, ironically, Bear.
Now both are dealing with a variety of severe health situations and authorities are trying to determine why the bear attacked Melinda Lebarron outside of her home along Peach Orchard Road in Lycoming County’s Middle Creek Township.
“We don’t know why it happened. No one was home and she isn’t able to speak at the moment,” said Cheyenne Lebarron, Melinda’s daughter-in-law. “We are able to ask questions and she can respond by motions. We asked if the dog went after the bear to protect her and if that is the reason she is still with us, and she nodded. That dog is the reason she’s alive.”
Melinda is currently in critical condition according to Maryann Lynn, nursing supervisor at Geisinger Medical Center.
Bear is being treated at the Susquehanna Trail Animal Hospital for a variety of health issues, including a broken sternum, punctured lung and a number of external wounds, according to Cheyenne.
The family has started a GoFundMe account for Melinda (www.gofundme.com/melinda-lebarron) and to help offset medical treatment for Bear (gofundme.com/quotbearquot-melinda-lebarrons-dog).
According to Mike Steingraber, game warden supervisor with the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Northcentral region, the situation is under investigation while the agency attempts to trap the bear.
“By all accounts, there appeared to be a bear attack last night on a lady outside of her residence,” he said. “We are not sure how started, but ultimately the lady was dragged 88 yards from her back porch, but ultimately was able to get away. She got back into the house and was able to contact a neighbor who contacted 911.”
Steingraber added that these sort of attacks are extremely rare.
“This is definitely not how bears typically react unless there is a contributing factor like a mother with cubs that feels threatened,” he said. “Bears typically only come around people to get food, and this is one of the reasons we encourage people to remove food sources such as bird feeders if you suspect bears are coming around.”
More information will be shared as it becomes available.