DeFuniak Springs - A dog in North Walton County was in critical-but-stable condition Tuesday after a suspected bear attack.
Florida Fish and Wildlife experts say it's an unusual case, but there are things you can do to safe-guard your home, family and pets.
Bears getting into trash cans and causing property damage seems to be the most widely reported bear-related problem in the DeFuniak Springs area, but now there seems to be a bigger concern: Bears attacking family pets.
Kim Collier thinks her “Beware-of-Dog” sign would better read: “Beware-of-Bear”.
She returned home from an overnight trip to find her Red Heeler Australian cattle dog, Cayenne in bad shape.
"At first we weren't sure because she was so covered in blood and sand when we found her the next morning. We had slept at my mother-in-laws overnight. When my husband went back home he found her. Because we live on Lake Holley, we thought that it might have been a gator or a dog attack" says Collier.
An emergency vet clinic treated Cayenne for more than 50-puncture wounds, mostly to the backs of her legs and underbelly.
"It wasn't until they cleaned her, and shaved where the wounds were, that they measured the bite radius and said it was definitely a bear”.
Just last week a dog was found dead here at Lake Holley behind the Colliers' house.
"We didn't know what had gotten it. But now the correlation could be that it might indeed have been the same bear" adds Collier.
If a bear did attacked Cayenne, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers say it would be a rare case.
They're urging residents to take precautions, by removing anything that would attract a bear, like trash and pet food. You may also want to keep pets indoors at night so they don't provoke an attack.
Cayenne is expected to recover. For more tips on bear-proofing your home, log on to myfwc.com/bears