Girth helps dog survive bear attack in Altamonte Springs

Vet says dog's extra fat likely saved her life

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. – Being meaty paid off for 12-year-old Fricka. 

She's a 15 1/2 pound miniature pinscher. 

"The vet says she's really hardy," said her owner, Eric Yaughn. "She said the extra layer of fat kept the bear's claw from tearing out her intestines."

Yaughn said Fricka was attacked by a bear Tuesday morning in his backyard at Douglaston Villas and Townhomes in Altamonte Springs. 

He said he turned on the back porch light but it wasn't bright enough to show the bear. 

When Yaughn called for Fricka to come back inside, her stubbornness kicked in. 

It was when he went to pick her up and bring her inside when the bear came out of the dark and in front of Yaughn.  

"What seemed like a nano second, it was right up on us and bear! And I hollered for her to come on and I start to run and I hear her yelp out in pain," Yaughn said. 

Yaughn thought Fricka was dead after her cry and rushed to his back door. 

"As I rounded the grill, I felt her bump up against my leg and I was like, 'Oh my God, she's with me.' So, I took off running. I get on the patio. I open the door. I pushed her in with my right foot and as I'm closing the door, the bear was right there," Yaughn said.

Frika has close to a dozen stitches and is doing well. 

About 3 miles away along Jay Drive, a mother bear and her two cubs were relaxing in a tree Thursday afternoon. 

Fanny Upton had a close encounter with the bear. 

"The mom bear came down and she was just staring at us for a while and kind of like, it looked like she was charging at us so we went running inside when we saw her running toward us," Upton said. 

While she understands she and her family live close to the wilderness the concern for her family remains. 

"Right now, we're just worried because all of these kids around and the bus stop is right there by the tree and it's just worrisome for the kids' safety," Upton said. 

Alyssa Simmons, a bear biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission was in the neighborhood Thursday. 

She left pamphlets on doors of homes with information on what to do if you come across a bear. 

Simmons said this time of year, bears are very active.

They can roam around 18 to 20 hours out of the day. 

A majority of their day, Simmons said, is spent in trees napping and eating because acorns are in abundance higher in the tree. 

She said they tend to move when dusk hits. 

Simmons recommends giving the bear space and taking in any trash or food left outdoors. 

Food may cause the bears to stick around instead of returning to the woods.