Maine man says he fought off a black bear that attacked his puppy

Dustin Gray, 29, of Orrington, and his 11-month-old puppy, Clover, were attacked by a bear in the woods off the side of Route 1A in Dedham on Feb. 5. Gray was treated for bruises and scratched on his hands and arms, and Clover is still recovering from an open wound on her back. (Courtesy of Dustin Gray | BDN)

DEDHAM (BDN) -- The Maine Warden Service is investigating a report that a bear mauled an Orrington man’s puppy in the woods off of Route 1A in Dedham.

Dustin Gray, 29, said he pulled to the side of the road and wandered 30 feet into the woods to let Clover, his 11-month-old lab mix, pee, when a black bear attacked the puppy. Gray said he punched and kicked the bear until it stopped biting her, which prompted the animal to knock him over as it ran off.

Vet technician Nicole Ireland at Penobscot Veterinary Services, where the dog is being treated, said Clover’s injuries are “consistent with a large animal attack.”

Black bears hibernate in dens during the winter months, and typically don’t emerge until spring. Since the 1980s, fewer than a dozen Mainers have fended off a bear, and none have died, according to BDN archives.

“Definitely that was the last thing on my mind, seeing a bear in the winter,” said Gray, who walked away with only scratches and bruises. Clover is in worse shape, and still recovering from significant puncture wounds, he said.

Cpl. John Macdonald said the Warden Service is still investigating Gray’s account. Game Warden Shannon Fish confirmed he responded to Gray’s initial report, but declined to comment.

Gray said Monday’s attack occurred around 3:30 p.m., after he and Clover wandered about 30 feet into the woods off of the side of Route 1A, near the Lucerne Inn. He was gazing off in the distance when he felt the leash rip from his hand, and he turned to see a “a big, black circle of fur” mauling his puppy, he said.

He charged toward his yipping dog and starting kicking and punching what he believed to be an approximately 150-pound black bear, he said. “I stuck my finger right in its eye,” he said.

That’s when he said the animal reared up and knocked him to the ground. “I thought it was ready to eat me, like it was my turn,” said the 6-foot, 5-inch construction worker. But the bear sprinted off, leaving Gray winded and bruised on the ground. The altercation lasted about 30 seconds, Gray estimated.

After the animal fled, Gray rushed to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, where he handed off Clover to his ex-wife, Ashton Warf, who took the puppy to the emergency vet. Gray was treated at EMMC for minor scratches and bruises to his arms and swollen hands, and his chest is still sore from where bear slammed against him, he said.

On Friday morning, Gray said he was coordinating with a local game warden to show him around where the attack took place while the authorities work to verify his account.

“It was a bear,” Gray said. “I was right on it.”

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off