Dog escapes bear attack in Chelsea, Quebec


by Trevor Greenway on August 27, 2009

A Golden Lab was clawed in the face by a black bear Aug. 16 in Chelsea, Quebec but the dog managed to escape the attack without any serious injuries.

Denis Smith was sitting in his home at 19 Fleury Rd. in Chelsea when he heard his dog Shylo barking aggressively. Thinking the dog was chasing a squirrel or a raccoon, Smith wasn’t too worried, but when the dog’s barking came to an abrupt stop, he knew something was wrong.

“All of a sudden, his bark stopped and I knew something had happened,”
Shylo ran back to the house and that’s when Smith realized there had been an attack, although he never actually saw the bear.

“I could see all five claw marks in his face,” said Smith, who added the dog was bleeding from his wounds.

“The marks were almost a foot long. That’s a big paw,” he added, showing the estimated size of the bear’s paw with his hands.

Smith brought his dog inside and rubbed some cream on the wounds to help the healing process, but the bear returned the next day and Smith saw it with his own eyes this time.

“As soon as I came around the corner, he was up,” said Smith, describing how the bear reared up on its two back legs, towering well over six feet tall.

“He’s a big boy.”

Smith said the first thing he did when he saw the bear was run, although he admits it’s not the smartest thing to do in that situation.

“I kind of panicked,” he said.

Smith and his girlfriend darted into the house and immediately dialed 9-11 as they were “very scared.” MRC des Collines showed up at the house to scope out the area, but by this time the bear had disappeared.

Smith has his suspicions that the bear returned again on Aug. 19, as Shylo was barking aggressively again.

“I could just tell by Shylo’s bark,” he said.

“I didn’t see it, but I know it was back.”

Smith fears that this bear isn’t afraid of humans and he wants to warn the neighborhood to be on the lookout. He typed up an info poster describing the entire incident with tips to preventing situations like this one.

Smith has since put his garbage into his garage, but feels that having garbage picked up only twice a month is part of the problem in Chelsea.

“If I cook fish, then the fish could be in there for two weeks,” said Smith.

Carolyn Callaghan of Nature Chelsea said that the main thing for people to understand is that these attacks are “extremely rare.” She added that property owners should take extra steps to avoid attracting bears to their property.

“When bears are awake, do not feed your birds,” she said, adding that the bird feed is a major attraction for the wild animals.

Callaghan added that garbage should be either kept inside a garage, or a house until the actual pickup day or else it should be stored in a bear proof garbage bin.

She also added that compost can attract bears and suggests turning it over often, to mask the rotting smell of older compost items.

Callaghan said one of the biggest issues with Smith’s incident is that the bear has been habituated, meaning that it has lost its fear of humans. She feels that everybody has a responsibility to make sure more bears don’t become habituated in the future.

“This community needs to focus on removing all attractants and preventing further problems,” she said.

“If there is no food for the bear, it will leave. It’s that simple.”

Callaghan added that pets should be kept indoors at night and that dogs should be in kennels, instead of letting them roam around the land. Barbecue smells are also a major attraction for black bears and she said scraping and cleaning grills is essential to staying safe in the country.

Other deterrents for bears are making a lot of noise and having a loud whistle to scare a bear off when in the proximity of humans.

For more information, check out the municipality of Chelsea’s black bear page at and click on “Wildlife.”