Hailey Morinico wasn’t thinking she was being brave when she shoved a bear to protect her family’s dogs. The 17-year-old heard loud barking in her family’s backyard in Bradbury, California over Memorial Day weekend. That’s when she saw a large bear with two cubs on the wall of her backyard.
The bear was taking swipes at Hailey’s mother’s service dog, who had rushed over to the bear. The family’s three other dogs began barking and ran frantically around in the yard. Hailey said “her protective instincts took over” and she sprinted over to the mama bear and shoved her off the wall. She then quickly grabbed one of the dogs and ran back into the house, the other dogs following after her.
The scary encounter was captured on surveillance cameras.
Hailey told ABC 7 News afterwards that she hadn’t recognized the animal as a bear at first as she was so intent on saving the dogs.
“Honestly, I did not know it was a bear until right after I pushed it,” she said. “I didn’t register in my head that it was a bear.”
Instead, she was only thinking of protecting the dog. “I was like ‘It’s an animal and it’s taking my child’ and I pushed the bear.”
Hailey’s mom, Citlally Morinico, was horrified when she saw what her daughter had done. She posted the video on Facebook where it quickly went viral. Citlally wrote: “My child Hailey just saved our dog with super human strength. For me one of the scariest moments in life.”
Hailey says she sprained her finger and has a few scrapes but otherwise she is doing okay. The dogs are unharmed.
It’s clear from the video that all the involved parties – dogs, bear, human – were simply trying to protect their families. Wildlife experts often recommend using some form of noisemaker (a bullhorn, for example) to scare a bear away rather than approach one to avoid getting seriously injured. Thankfully, in this encounter no one was seriously hurt.