California Man Punches 350-Pound Bear that Attacked his Pet Dog

A California man fought off a bear that attacked his dog the day before Thanksgiving, tackling the animal and punching it in the face.

Kaleb Bentham, of Grass Valley in Nevada County, had been playing with his pet pit bull "Buddy" near his home off You Bet Road on November 25 when he heard a growl and realized the dog was being targeted by a 350-pound bear, CBS 13 reported.

According to Bentham, the bear had the dog's head in its mouth and was attempting to drag it away from the area when he quickly rushed to Buddy's aid.

"I just ran down there, plowed into the bear, tackled it and grabbed it by the throat and started hitting it in the face and the eye until it let go," Benham told CBS 13. He said the bear attack had taken place approximately 75-100 feet away from him.

Luckily, the bear let go of its potential prey and Bentham was able to rush the pit bull to Mother Lode Veterinary Hospital, where it endured surgery that lasted more than three hours, requiring stitches and staples to the side of his head and above the eyes.

A video posted to social media by reporter Anna Giles showed the extent of the dog's injuries, as Bentham explained the left side of his pet's mouth was punctured as the bear bit a hole through its lip. Wearing a head cone, Buddy is now recovering.

Buddy’s face was severely damaged. His ears had to be stapled back on. But he’s recovering! Kaleb and Buddy spent Thanksgiving laying in bed resting, but they’re more thankful than ever. Photo of Buddy as Kaleb watched from outside the operating room ⬇️

— Anna Giles (@AnnaGilesTV) December 4, 2020

The only species in California are black bears, with an estimated population of 30,000 to 40,000, according to the state's Department of Fish and Game. Adult females can weigh 100-200 pounds, while adult males weigh around 150-350 pounds, it says.

While it has been days since the attack, Bentham said a black bear has returned to the scene of the incident multiple times since. "It made an attack and had its food and it's food got taken from it and it wants it back, I feel like," he told CBS 13.

But the pit bull owner had no regrets about his life-saving actions last week, adding: "If it was your kid, what would you do? That's my kid, I would die for my dog."

The state wildlife agency has said black bears commonly eat ants and other insects in summer but as omnivores will munch on "whatever seems edible." They can adapt to a human presence and are often attracted into an area by pet food or garbage.

It advises: "If you encounter a bear, do not run; instead, face the animal, make noise and try to appear as large as possible. If attacked, fight back. Do not 'play dead.'"

black bear
A female black bear forages in the forest along the Bow River Parkway for food as seen in this 2009 Banff Springs, Canada, summer morning landscape photo. A California man said he fought off a black bear that attacked his dog the day before Thanksgiving. George Rose/Getty