Woman says her 2 dogs, bicyclist saved her from bear in Collier County

Reporter: Rachel Cox-Rosen Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Kathleen Boyle. She and her two Westies survived a bear attack in Collier County Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020. Boyle says her two dogs and a nearby bicyclist saved her from a black bear near her home. Credit: WINK News.

A woman says she and her two dogs were attacked by a black bear in Collier County on the morning of Christmas Eve Thursday.

Kathleen Boyle spoke to us Friday, the day after she says her two dogs and a bicyclist helped her escape from a mother bear after they ran into her cubs during a morning walk in the Fiddler’s Creek community.

Boyle says her dogs, one ironically named Bear, and her other pup, Robin, both stayed by her side when they encountered a family of bears in the neighborhood.

“It wasn’t until probably 11:30, 12 o’clock that I stopped shaking,” Boyle said. β€œBecause it was that trauma, ‘I can’t believe this just happened.’”

Boyle’s two Westies are show dogs, but they didn’t worry about manners when a bear approached them and their owner.

“So here you’ve got an 18-pound terrier who’s going to defend his master against a 400-pound bear,” Boyle said.

She was walking her terriers on their leashes down her street when she saw two bear cubs. She knew that meant their mom wasn’t far away, so she ran.

“I only made it 20, 30 paces,” Boyle said. β€œ[Bear] turned around and starts going back toward the cubs. I turned around and realized that the mama bear was coming after us.”

During the 15-minute attack, both dogs fought. First, it was Bear who put up a defense.

“He went into her belly and bit her belly and started attacking her, so she came after him,” Boyle said. β€œShe on all fours picked him up in her mouth and drove him to the ground, bit him.”

Then, Robin stepped in.

“The bear was up on her hind legs and so [Robin] ran into her legs and bit her belly,” Boyle said.

And then Boyle fought back too.

“I started punching her and she, distracted, looked at me,” Boyle said. “It was just a fight or flight, and it just kicked in, and it was just my own mom bear came out like, β€˜Not on my shift. You’re not taking my dog away.’”

Eventually, both dogs ran off.

“So now the bear only has one person to go after, and it’s me,” Boyle explained. “I would back up five paces and move forward a little bit punching at her. She just didn’t stop.”

That’s when Boyle was saved.

“A biker was coming this direction. He saw it was happening,” Boyle said. β€œHe yelled, so between the two of us yelling, she got scared and ran away.”

Boyle credits the bicyclist and her two pups for saving her life.

“If it weren’t for the biker, I don’t know what the outcome would’ve been,” Boyle said. “They’re just heroes; if it weren’t for him responding, the bear would’ve come up behind us and taken one or all of us out.”

Bear, the terrier, did have some injuries.

“He has puncture wounds on his neck; he was in extreme pain yesterday,” Boyle said. β€œHe has a lot of soft tissue damage, even though he looks fine.”

Kathleen and her husband, Donald, hope what everyone takes away from this story is that you have to be careful around wildlife, especially baby bears.

Meanwhile, tiny heroes will be getting a lot of love for the remainder of Christmas.

“So very spirited and getting lots of hugs,” Boyle said.

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