Beagle survives nose-to-nose encounter with grizzly bear

Neighbors chase off, kill sow in Interior town

Posted: Friday, April 30, 2004

FAIRBANKS - When Tiffany Morris looked out the window in Anderson and saw her pet beagle, Buddy, standing face to face with a grizzly bear, she couldn't bear to look.

"They were standing there nose to nose, looking at each other," said Morris, 20.

"I thought, 'My dog is going to get eaten.' I couldn't look," she said. "I just dropped onto the floor."

Her sister, Tammy, meanwhile, was at the window banging two pots together trying to scare the bear away, a technique that wasn't working.

Panicked, Tiffany ran to another room to get a phone to call for help. Before she did, she heard a 911 tone come over an EMT radio that belongs to her boyfriend, Cory Leff, the town's fire chief.

The dispatcher said there was a bear in the yard across the street.

"I grabbed the radio and said, 'No, it's in our yard. He's attacking our dog. We need help,"' she said.

Fortunately, the Anderson cavalry arrived in time to save Buddy.

"In a matter of two minutes half the town was here," Tiffany said. "I looked out and saw rifles everywhere. That's when I felt safe."

The bear, a sow, was chased off and killed a few minutes later by residents in the town of about 600 people off the Parks Highway 76 miles southwest of Fairbanks.

The only injuries 12-year-old Buddy suffered were slobber and emotional trauma, Tiffany said.

"He had slobber all down his back," she said. "He was laying on the floor shaking and breathing hard for about four hours afterward."

Jon Bailey, the Morris' uncle and next-door neighbor, was sitting in his living room watching the news at around 6:45 p.m. when he noticed the bear walk into his yard.

" 'Shel, there's a griz on the lawn,' " he told his wife, Shelley.

"That bear just ran right over to the dog and started chasing it around its house," Shelley Bailey said. She, too, thought Buddy was history.

"It was horrifying," Shelley Bailey said. "My husband was like, 'Get the guns.' "

But Jon Bailey couldn't find ammunition for either of his rifles.

"The kids shot them all up target shooting," he said. So Bailey resorted to banging a metal bar in the back of his pickup and honking the horn.

Shelley Bailey called her nieces and told them, "Don't freak out but there's a grizzly heading your way."

Tiffany and Tammy Morris looked out the window to see the bear chasing Buddy around his dog house in circles. The next time she looked out, Tiffany said, the beagle and bear were "checking each other out" face to face.

"It was almost like they were playing. The bear never swatted at him or nothing," Tiffany Morris said.

About that time, someone showed up and fired a shot in the air, Tiffany Morris said. The bear ran into the woods but came back after the dog before retreating.

"The bear kept wanting to come back to the dog," Jon Bailey said. "It didn't want to leave."

Dustin Witte, who raced over from his house after hearing the 911 call, shot the bear about a block away as it was heading into the woods. Witte had a grizzly bear tag so it was a legal kill. The season is open through May 31.

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