'Bear gone bad' attacks dogs in Seminole County neighborhood

FWC plans to capture bear involved in maulings

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla.UPDATE: Reese's owners said the dog died May 5, nearly two weeks after the attack. Read more on that here.

A Seminole County couple says a mother bear with her two yearlings attacked their 4-year-old Yorkshire terrier mix on Sunday and now Florida Fish and Wildlife officials said they are planning to set traps in the area.

Roxane and Rick Mann said they've been living in Estates at Spring Landing Subdivsion in Longwood for 20 years and have learned to live with bears in the area, but recently this particular mother bear has gotten more aggressive.

The couple said the attack on Sunday began around 7 p.m. when their house alarm was triggered.

"My husband came home because our alarm was going off  and he pulled in, lifted the garage, went inside because if you have a burglar you want your garage up," Roxane Mann said. 

[READ: How to protect your pet from wildlife]

Rick Mann saw there was no threat inside the home, so when he heard their dog, Reese's, barking he thought it was because his wife was home, so he opened the door to the garage and saw the bear with her two yearlings rummaging through a refrigerator.

Reese's barking agitated the bear, so she lunged on the dog. Rick Mann threw a large pack of paper towels at the bear in an attempt to stop the attack, which worked but only temporarily.

"I tried my best to distract her, to throw things at her, to release the dog. Usually you want to be as big as you can, as loud as you can, be a whistle, a horn," Rick Mann said. "That's what I was doing and she started to leave ... then she turned back around and looked at my dog who was laying there at that point and decided she was going to come back and attack again."

It took Rick Mann swinging a vacuum cleaner at the bear to finally get the attack to stop.

Reese's suffered seven puncture wounds, lacerations, torn muscles, a dislocated tail and a sacrum injury. He's undergone five hours of surgery and now needs a catheter and feeding tube since Sunday's mauling.

"He's a miracle dog and we are just praying that he makes it," Roxane Mann said.

The next day, the Manns said those same bears broke through the screen surrounding a neighbor's pool and attacked two toy poodles that were barking, killing one of them. 

The couple said they've seen the family of bears in the past and have even come face-to-face with them, but the incidents on Sunday and Monday prove that things have gotten out of control.

"She is very dangerous, we have seen so many bears living here 20 years and they are wonderful. I mean, we stay away from them. You want them to be afraid of you and this one is not afraid to the point of aggression and we don't want this to happen to anybody, a person," Roxane Mann said. 

The couple said they have bear proof trash cans and do everything they can to deter the creatures, but this bear has gotten too intelligent and lost its fear of humans, even learning how to avoid traps.

"We want public safety. We want people to know we love animals, but this is just a bear that has gone bad," Roxane Mann said.

FWC spokesman Greg Workman said the agency is trying to capture the bear.

"In order for us to accomplish that, we’re asking that people please try to stay clear of the area. If there’s a lot of unfamiliar sounds and smells associated with additional human and vehicle traffic. It makes our job very difficult, if not impossible," Workman said.

There are thousands of bears across Florida, many of which have habitats near residential areas. For tips on how to safely live with bears, click here.

About the Authors:

Nadeen Yanes joined News 6 as a general assignment reporter in 2016. She grew up in Leesburg and graduated from the University of Florida. Nadeen has won three Associated Press Awards for her reporting on the Pulse Nightclub shooting, the trial of the Pulse gunman's wife and the capture of an accused cop killer, Markeith Loyd.