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California man tackles and punches massive bear that attacked his dog

Nature: Black bears
Nature: Black bears 03:12

A dog owner in California says he recently fought off a massive bear, tackling it to the ground and punching it in the face after it attacked his pit bull, Buddy. 

Kaleb Benham, who lives in Nevada County, California, says his 90-pound rescue dog, Buddy, was playing near his home the day before Thanksgiving when the attack occurred. Bentham told CBS Sacramento that he heard growls outside, and when he went to check on Buddy, he found the roughly 350-pound bear "dragging him by his head." 

"Honestly, the only thing I could think of was 'save my baby,'" Benham said.

Benham ran outside and attacked the bear, successfully rescuing Buddy. "I just ran down there, plowed into the bear, tackled it and grabbed it by the throat and started hitting it in the face and the eye until it let go," he said.

After the ordeal, Benham was desperate to rush Buddy to a veterinary hospital, but found that the one closest to his house was closed due to a positive COVID-19 case. 

"My first thought was that I was going to lose him," Benham said.

Benham eventually brought Buddy to Mother Lode Veterinary Hospital in Grass Valley, where the dog was rushed into surgery. Benham said he watched for more than three hours as Buddy got staples, stitches and tubes inserted into his head to drain fluid. 

A video posted to Twitter features Buddy wearing a cone around his head to allow his wounds to heal. Benham said that the bear bit very close to the dog's eye, and caused a hole straight through his lip. His ears also had to be fully stapled back on. 

Benham said Buddy is expected to make a full recovery. However, the bear has returned to his house several times since the attack, and he hasn't figured out how to get it to go away. 

"It made an attack and had its food and its food got taken from it and it wants it back, I feel like," Benham said.

According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the state is home to only one species of bear — the black bear. There are currently an estimated 25,000 to 30,000 black bears in California. 

Adult female black bears weigh about 100 to 200 pounds, whereas adult males weigh about 150 to 350 pounds, with some growing to be as large as 600 pounds, according to officials. 

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