17-year-old Hailey Morinico got more than she bargained for this week when she noticed the family dogs were going wild and went outside to investigate what might be upsetting them. Security footage at her home in Bradbury, California captured the whole episode.
The American black bear and her two cubs were strolling along the wall at the Morinico family home, and while the cubs stayed timid in the background, the mama bear was less retiring. She can be seen in the video becoming agitated when the dogs start barking, and beginning to swipe down at them. She even picks one of them - "the baby", or puppy Valentina - up, which is why Morinico reacted so strongly.
I was like 'Oh my god, there's a bear and it is taking my dog. It is lifting her up and off the ground'. The dog that the bear grabbed, she's the baby. I have to protect the baby. - Hailey Morinico
Bradbury is a city that borders lots of wild land - the San Gabriel Mountains and the Angels National Forest - so bears are common in the area, but to see them in a domestic garden is still certainly incongruous. Which, presumably, is why Hailey Morinico says that initially, she thought the garden intruder was another dog. Not until she had already rushed outside did she clock that the furry interloper was not a rival dog but, in fact, a dangerous bear.
Having rushed to her puppy's aid, Morinico shoved firmly at the mother bear, which can be seen in the video dropping the puppy hastily and scrambling to get back onto the wall and escape away from the house while Morinico and her dogs back away from the scene. The baby bears are, by this point, not visible in the video - presumably, the loud barking of the dogs scared them away.
Amazingly, given their relative sizes, Morinico only got scratches and a sprained finger from her escapade, but she warns that no one else should try what she did. "Don't push bears," is her takeaway advice from the encounter. Not everyone would be as lucky as her, and bears can do an awful lot of damage, particularly when protecting their own young.
But in this particular encounter, Hailey Morinico perfectly encapsulated the image of the Mama Bear, protecting her cubs (in this case, her puppy Valentina) from animal intruders. And this time, it had a happy ending for the dogs.