HUNKER, Pa. (KDKA) — It was a case of man versus wild for one Westmoreland County man this week.
“It was all instinct and stupid courage, but stupid courage was better than no courage,” said Tim Stradling, a pastor at Armbrust Wesleyan Church.
He recalled to KDKA a standoff on Monday night between his 9-year-old Maltese/Terrier mix, Peyton Manning, and a black bear.
“In the moment, I just couldn’t imagine him being eaten or him being taken into the woods,” said the pastor.
Stradling said this happened around 10:00 p.m. outside his home off Route 819.
The dog was on the leash outside. He was quiet, but then his barks turned into sounds of distress. When the pastor came outside, “I look to my left and there’s a black bear with Peyton in its mouth,” he said.
Stradling moved quickly to rescue his dog. He screamed, shouted, and then charged the bear several times. The bear even charged back before finally releasing Peyton, who was rushed to a Monroeville animal clinic.
“I sang ‘Jesus Loves Me’ to my little Peyton Manning, just like I would to one of my own kids because we didn’t know whether he was going to survive,” said Stradling.
The dog had bites to the neck and left leg, which also suffered a fracture and nerve damage and had to be amputated because of his injuries.
The pastor’s only physical battle wounds were some brush burns from falling during the fight.
He hopes sharing his story will have other pet owners on alert about the seriousness of black bear sightings.
“We’ve got enough wild animals around us that there’s a possibility. And it happened to us,” he said.