APOPKA, Fla. – A potty break for an Apopka couple’s dog became a harrowing moment when a bear started chasing them.
Jason and Rachael Smith say they were walking their dog around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday in their neighborhood near Wekiwa State Park when the bear appeared.
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“The dog was doing his business. This bear came out from behind my neighbor’s car and immediately charged after us,” Jason Smith said.
He said his first instinct was to try and pick up the dog, but when the bear started coming toward them, he began to wave his arms and yell, hoping the bear would back off.
“I see my husband reacting, waving his arms up and yelling,” Rachel Smith said. “And he’s like, ‘Run.’ I look back and I see the bear charging me.”
Fortunately, the dog also saw the bear and took off with his owners.
A doorbell camera caught the Smiths running into their home, followed by the dog, and the bear was captured chasing them up the walkway. The dog stopped for a moment and faced the bear before running into the house.
“We were just hollering at him to get him inside,” Rachel Smith said. “We didn’t want him to stop, but (I) think he had to defend us against the bear because little dogs have a big dog attitude sometimes.”
The bear is seen stopping short of the door before turning around and walking away.
“(The bear) did come back to our door a couple hours later,” Rachel Smith said. “He came up to the door again. We have a fountain in our front yard. I think maybe he was just thirsty and trying to get a drink.”
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, scaring a bear by yelling, using an air horn or doing something else to make a lot of noise is the right thing to do, provided the bear has a clear escape route and you are in a safe area.
You should not run, because that triggers its instincts, and bears can run up to 35 mph.
If you have a much closer encounter with a bear, FWC says remain standing upright, back up slowly and speak to the bear in a calm, assertive voice.
The Smiths say they were about 30 feet away from the bear.
FWC also says that if you are in a neighborhood that bears visit, you should keep dogs on a short leash.