- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 8, 2005

HARRISONBURG, Va. (AP) - A 200-pound black bear charged into a home and went on a 40-minute rampage, attacking a dog and damaging a basement guest room as it tried to claw its way out.

Rosie, a 3-year-old blue heeler, was treated by a veterinarian for puncture wounds, but her owners were not injured.

Karla Irving said that when she let Rosie out Saturday night, she heard the dog barking and caught a glimpse of something small scurrying in the darkness. Her eyes followed a bear cub up a tree, and when she looked back down she saw more movement.

“I think the dog realized it before I realized it - that there’s a bigger bear out there and she’s coming,” Mrs. Irving said.

Rosie dashed inside, followed closely by Mrs. Irving and the bear. Mrs. Irving tried to close the door behind her but the bear forced its way through, pinning her momentarily behind the door, and attacked Rosie.

Mrs. Irving screamed to her 82-year-old mother, Margaret Vest, to close a door leading to the rest of the house, which is on U.S. 33 just outside Harrisonburg. Then she went back outside, closing the door behind her.

“I was obviously terrified and so I ran back outside,” Mrs. Irving said yesterday on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Rosie escaped the bear’s jaws and fled, and Mrs. Vest closed the door to the basement, trapping the bear inside.

Mrs. Irving’s husband, David, who was taking a shower upstairs, heard the commotion and came out of the bathroom to investigate.

“I felt the tub rumbling and I felt this vibration and this horrible noise - thump, thump, thump,” Mr. Irving said in the TV interview.

He called 911, and the bear had the run of the basement guest room while the family waited for police to arrive. Officers from the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office arrived and opened the back door, letting the bear out.

Damage in the basement was concentrated around windows, where the bear tried to scrape and claw its way out. Venetian blinds were strewn across the floor, window screens were crumpled and four long scrape marks were left by the bear’s claw.

“It would have been nice if she had laid down on the bed and taken a nap,” Mrs. Irving said. ?But that’s not what happened.”

Dennis Martin, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ professional on black bears, said the animals typically don’t want to enter houses but do sometimes trespass for food - especially if someone has been feeding them.

He also said that when a dog barks at a bear, its normal response is to run away, not attack.

Mr. Martin said bears that enter homes usually are either trapped and relocated or killed. But since the bear has not been seen since Saturday night, it may be hard to identify.

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