This was a devastatingly hard lesson for one dog lover: Animals are unpredictable.
A driver pulled over in Jasper National Park to catch a glimpse of a black bear at the side of a road. But with the window down, the dog suddenly jumped out of the vehicle seemingly startling the bear. That’s when the bear attacked, and the dog died.
“With heavy hearts, Parks Canada can confirm that a dog did not survive an encounter with a bear,” Parks Canada said. “Parks Canada human-wildlife conflict specialists responded and retrieved the dog. It is clear that this dog was under control until it escaped from the car through an open window.”
The bear has not acted aggressively toward people, but officials are keeping an eye on it.
“This is a sad reminder that all pets should be kept under control and on-leash at all times while within a national park,” officials said. “Our condolences go out to the pet owner involved in this incident.”
But not everyone has been so sympathetic.
Some are even taking to social media to blame the driver for putting both the dog and the bear in harm’s way.
Which prompted Victoria Paige Brunner to jump to the pet owner’s defence with a heartfelt post.
“Wow, I am found without words right now toward some of these comments,” Brunner wrote on Jasper’s Facebook page. “The dog’s name was Foster and I rescued her as a puppy and gifted her to the best dog owner I know.”
The mini Australian blue heeler mix was 2-years-old and a well-trained service dog, Brunner continued.
Foster’s owner was on day three through the Alberta Rockies of a four-day drive to reach the ferry to Juneau, Alaska where he goes every year for seasonal work.
Brunner figured the long drive, Foster’s youth as well as herding instinct combined with the curiosity to “meet this creature she’d never seen before” prompted her to leap from the car.
“Never once did she bark or harass the bear,” Brunner wrote. “…This was a freak accident and nothing more.”
She said her friend is devastated, and thanked Parks Canada for its handling of the awful situation.
“Foster wasn’t just a dog, she was a companion, support, and family. Our community who knew her will miss her greatly and I hope those who were so quick to judge will have a change of heart,” Brunner added.
A tough safety lesson. But perhaps this will save other pets from a similar fate.
You can read more wildlife viewing tips here.
Remember to stop out of traffic, stay in your car, keep pets on a leash, roll up your windows and move on after a few minutes.