Dog survives run-in with bear

Bears are regular visitors on Lake Eustis Drive, but they usually come out while people are sleeping, according to Donna Blankenship.

She said she didn’t expect one to be sitting in her back yard when she let the dogs out around 9:30 Wednesday evening.

“I looked out the bathroom window and I saw a huge bear in our backyard sitting around a big pile of garbage,” she said.

Maeson, the family’s Schnauzer-Yorkie mix, was no match for the big black bear.

“They probably approached it and the bear was guarding its food and just kind of swatted at him to keep him away.  And then went flying back into the house.”

Maeson has a few puncture wounds and a lot of bruises, but Blankenship and her wife expect him to be okay.

Blankenship, whose home backs up to a wooded area, said she’s seen the bear before.

“He climbs over the back of my fence and then he climbs over the front and he goes from neighbor to neighbor and then he drags the garbage back through my yard over to the empty field behind my house and eats.”

She said she hooks her garbage can to the fence and ropes it shut to try keep the bears out.

She said the attack on Maeson will have the family double checking the yard.

"Definitely we're going to have to go out before the dogs or the children.”

And she’ll be double checking her trash, too.

She called the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to report Maeson’s run-in and the officer gave her a Notice of Non-Compliance,  a written warning, letting her know bears were being attracted to her house and she could be fined if her garbage isn’t properly secured.

"Somehow it turned into my fault that my dog got bit because the bear got into my garbage,” she said.

The agency reports officers gave out 163 Notices of Non-Compliance in 2016.  They’ve been giving the notices out since 2015 as part of a new rule that prohibits feeding bears.

A call to the local FWC spokesman regarding Blankenship’s notice was not immediately returned.