Pennsylvania woman saw a bear jump a fence before it attacked and thought, 'This is it — I’m going to die'

A Pennsylvania woman who was attacked by a bear while letting her dog out said it’s a miracle she survived the backyard encounter Tuesday night.

“I just kept thinking, ‘I can’t believe this is happening. This can’t be happening.’ I’m being attacked by a bear,” Lee Ann Galante, 55, said Wednesday from Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh. “I thought this is it — I’m going to die.”

Galante said that prior to the attack, her neighbors in Butler Township had captured a mother bear and her cubs on their home cameras and that the animals had previously gotten into with her bird feeder. But it had been weeks since anyone had seen the bears, Galante said.

And then on Tuesday, Galante got an extremely close look at a black bear.

Galante was home alone with her beloved Pomeranian, “Smokie,” and went outside with the 8-pound dog. She said she heard Smokie causing a commotion and looked over and saw the silhouette of three sizeable bear cubs in a neighbor’s tree.

What she saw next was even more frightening, Galante said.

“Out of the dark, I see this big bear just jump over the fence, and there’s Smokie. So I start screaming, ‘Smokie, Smokie.”

The bear charged at her and knocked her face first onto some concrete, she said.

“She bites the back of my head so hard that I thought she was going to scalp me,” Galante said.

The bear, Galante said, kept turning her attention from her to her dog. The bear managed to get near Smokie again, before it rushed at Galante and knocked her to the ground and bit her left arm.

Galante and Smokie managed to get inside the home from a back deck. Galante said she crawled to a phone and called 911.

Galante listed her injuries as: Dozens of staples on the back of her head, a broken nose, cuts inside her mouth, puncture wounds on her arm and scrapes and scratches all over.

Galante was initially treated for her injuries at Butler Memorial Hospital, Butler Township police said in a statement.

Lee Ann Galante. (WPXI)

Lee Ann Galante. (WPXI)

After the attack, the mother bear and her three cubs were found in a tree in the immediate area, police said.

“The female bear continued with her aggression,” police said, prompting the Pennsylvania Game Commission to euthanize her.

The game commission also tranquilized the cubs, police said, and they are expected to be released in an unknown location.

Butler is about 35 miles north of Pittsburgh.

Galante said Smokie managed to escape with only scratches on his back.

“He kept distracting her. I’m just so thankful he wasn’t really hurt,” she said.

Galante said she and Smokie are fortunate to still have each other, considering the bear’s strength and temperament.

“She was very aggressive and very strong,” Galante said. “It was horrible.”

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