Heroic Dog Sacrifices Himself to Save His Family from a Bear

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A beagle named Max tragically lost his life when he found himself trying to fight off an angry mama bear.  But because of his valiant heart, his entire family’s lives were spared.

On the night of Monday, June 8th, Jeff and Renee Hanna were watching a movie with their two dogs, Max and Pete, curled up near them.  They knew something was awry when Pete, the younger of the two, started barking.  Jeff quickly discovered that there had been an intruder in their Michigan yard.

“The bear came and tore the feeders down so I grabbed a flashlight and I walked all over the backyard,” he explained to 9 & 10 News.

He wasn’t able to find it, and went back inside.  Before retiring for the evening, Jeff took the boys out for a final bathroom break.  Not having found the bear earlier, he assumed it had moved on.  He was dead wrong.


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“I spotted a bear coming around the shed that you had seen out there by the driveway. I’d seen it and, at that point, I could tell it was charging. I just yelled, ‘Get out! Get out! It’s here!’”

Max bounded in front of Jeff and attacked the bear, but he was no match for the powerful creature, and she chomped him.

“The dog and the bear collided right there. The bear hit the dog and rolled him over and then that bear went right for that dog’s throat.”

They chased the bear away, but she had already sealed Max’s fate.  His injuries were too severe to survive, and the Hannas were forced to put him to sleep.


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Police arrived to find the mama bear and her three cubs in a tree only a few yards away from the house.

Max was like a surrogate dad for Pete, and was fiercely protective of his family.  Even if the results were the same, he likely would have done the same thing to save them.  His family is eternally grateful for his heroism, and will always fondly remember him.

“He loved everybody. Everybody,” Jeff said.  “He was a good rabbiting dog. Loved his rabbits, but he loved kids. That was his thing. That was Max.”


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45 thoughts on “Heroic Dog Sacrifices Himself to Save His Family from a Bear”

  1. We live in AK bear country. Responsible pet owners have their pets under firm voice control or leashed to protect them. Bears will RARELY attack a human being unless they are being really stupid and getting between a mom and her cubs, startling the bear or running like prey. bears also do not come around homes and people unless they are being baited by those who don’t secure their garbage.

    This poor dog’s life was as wasted as if he ran out into traffic and got hit by a car.

    • I agree, Ted, and I also live in Alaska, no seed and no trash…keep your dogs under control. My husky was head butted through her 8 foot Kennel fence by a black mama bear while the three cubs were up in trees nearby. She head butted right back but was protected by the fence. I never did figure out why the bear didn’t climb over the fence. Fortunately, mama didn’t. And life went on.

  2. The owner was foolish letting the dogs out so soon after seeing a bear. I would have taken them for a walk on a leash down the street if they had to do their business knowing the bear was somewhere in their yard. Poor dog.

  3. God bless you and your Max. What a sweat heart! So Sorry for your loss.
    (ignore the rest…if they don’t have something nice to say, then they need to keep it to themselves)

    • I agree with b says on….it is sad that some people can only criticize and be mean when someone has experienced a loss…..I hope the family is coping with this tragedy – very sorry for the loss of brave little Max…

    • This could have happened to anyone of us……, So stop with the nasty comments, I’m very sure these people loved their dog max very much like one of their children and took very good care of them, Things happen no matter if it was negligence on their part or not, Loosing a pet is like loosing a child, Max was a brave soul protecting his family, I’m so sorry for their loss, Can’t You all be too!

  4. Feeders should never ever be left out overnight in bear country. The dog’s owner invited the bears into his yard by providing food.

  5. I also had tears in my eyes reading this tragedy but also out of pride that Max the Beagle Angel, small as he was next to a Mama Bear, did not hesitate out of LOVE for all of you. I can only hope that I have the character of “MAX THE NOBLE” when faced with a life threatening situation and loved ones.
    God sent you that precious Dog. I know how difficult it is to replace such a loved family member but I must agree that Pete will be lonely. One thing I know. Max was a reflection of the fine family you all are. Do what you think best. I have 4 dogs myself the only thing I can say is that “ALL DOGS DO GO TO HEAVEN”. Right behind Max. My condolences. Be proud. The kids that know him will miss him as well. Chase those rabbits MAX you HERO!


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