California man punches 350lb bear in the face to save his rescue dog ‘Buddy’

A dog owner in California fought off a 350lb black bear that was attacking his beloved rescue pitbill by punching it in the face.

Kaleb Benham, of Grass Valley, Nevada County, was at home on the day before Thanksgiving when he heard growls outside where Buddy had been playing.  

Running to the rescue, he discovered his 90lb dog locked in the jaws of a giant black bear who was ‘dragging him by his head’ from around 75 to 100ft away. 

Benham, who adopted the pup from a shelter several years ago, didn’t hesitate to rescue his best friend. 

‘Honestly, the only thing I could think of was “save my baby”,’ he told CBS Sacramento. 

Kaleb Benham adopted pitbull Buddy from a shelter several years ago and calls him his 'baby'

Kaleb Benham adopted pitbull Buddy from a shelter several years ago and calls him his 'baby'

Kaleb Benham adopted pitbull Buddy from a shelter several years ago and calls him his ‘baby’

Benham, who is originally from Sacramento, described how he ran full tilt at the bear to save his pet.

He then tackled the beast, grabbed it by the throat and punched it in the face and eyes until it dropped Buddy from its jaws. 

Having miraculously fought off the attacker and while remaining uninjured himself, he faced a race against time to find a veterinarian to save the dog from some gruesome injuries.

Buddy suffered deep gashes near his eyes, teeth marks around his head and a puncture right through his lip.

The rescue pitbull was playing outside Benham's home in Grass Valley, Nevada County, California, when the black bear attacked him

The rescue pitbull was playing outside Benham's home in Grass Valley, Nevada County, California, when the black bear attacked him

The rescue pitbull was playing outside Benham’s home in Grass Valley, Nevada County, California, when the black bear attacked him

The dog suffered multiple injuries from being mauled by the bear and needed multiple stitches and staples to his head and ears

The dog suffered multiple injuries from being mauled by the bear and needed multiple stitches and staples to his head and ears

The dog suffered multiple injuries from being mauled by the bear and needed multiple stitches and staples to his head and ears

Buddy underwent more than three hours of surgery at Mother Lode Veterinary Hospital to save him from some gruesome injuries caused by the black bear attack

Buddy underwent more than three hours of surgery at Mother Lode Veterinary Hospital to save him from some gruesome injuries caused by the black bear attack

Buddy underwent more than three hours of surgery at Mother Lode Veterinary Hospital to save him from some gruesome injuries caused by the black bear attack 

Benham, who is originally from Sacramento, described how he ran full tilt at the bear to save his pet

Benham, who is originally from Sacramento, described how he ran full tilt at the bear to save his pet

Benham, who is originally from Sacramento, described how he ran full tilt at the bear to save his pet

The first veterinarian’s office Benham tried, which was closest to his house, had been closed due to a positive COVID-19 case, and he worried he may ‘lose him’. 

But he eventually found Mother Lode Veterinary Hospital, where Buddy underwent more than three hours of emergency surgery for his injuries, including stitches to his head, stapling on his ears and tubes to drain fluid from his head.

‘I just stood there and watched through the window for three and a half hours,’ Benham said. 

But Buddy pulled through and is now making a speedy recovery. 

They spent the day of Thanksgiving recovering in bed- feeling very thankful for each other.  

Bear attacks on humans

Fatal black bear attacks  on humans are rare

Fatal black bear attacks  on humans are rare

Fatal black bear attacks  on humans are rare

Fatal bear attacks on humans in the wild are rare in North America, accounting for less than 30 deaths every tenyears.  

Brown or ‘grizzly’ bears, whose habitats span from Alaska, Northern and Western Canada and the Rocky Mountains in the US, are considered more aggressive than black bears. 

Black bear attacks, which occur over a wider geographical range, are much less common.

They rarely attack when confronted by humans, and usually limit themselves to making mock charges, emitting blowing noises and swatting the ground with their forepaws.     

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But Buddy’s attacker has not disappeared and has returned to the scene of the crime several times.

‘It made an attack and had it’s food and its food got taken from it and it wants it back, I feel like,’ said Benham. 

He added that he doesn’t know how to encourage the beast to stay away but knows he did the right thing to save his dog. 

‘If it was your kid, what would you do. That’s my kid, I would die for my dog,’ he said.

A Go Fund Me has now been launched by Benham’s sister, Katelyn, to raise money to pay for the significant vet bills and has so far raised $2,278. 

Calling for donations she added: ‘Buddy is lucky to be alive but has many stitches and staples. Buddy means the world to Kaleb and is his best friend.’

Black and brown bear attacks on humans in the wild in North America are extremely rare.  

So far two people have died in Canada as a result of bear attacks in 2020.

In July, Peter Franczak, 67, went blueberry picking near Red Lake, Ontario, and did not return. 

His body was later found and a black bear sighted nearby before being shot by police.

A month later Stephanie Blaise, 44, died in an attack outside her family’s cabin in Saskatchewan, a Canadian province that borders the United States to the south.

Her husband later shot the bear dead. 

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