Teen girl fights off wild bear with bare hands in California to rescue her pet dogs

The teen rushed into action to protect her pet dogs from the bear, which viewers believe was acting defensively to protect its cubs.
The teen rushed into action to protect her pet dogs from the bear, which viewers believe was acting defensively to protect its cubs. Photo credit: bakedliepie / Twitter

A teenage girl fearlessly fought off a wild bear to protect her beloved pet dogs after the predator attempted to enter the backyard, with footage of the terrifying tussle quickly going viral on social media.

Hailey Morinico, 17, got the fright of her life when a bear - with two cubs in tow - attempted to scale the wall surrounding a property in Bradford, California, but the teen managed to hold her own against the wild animal. 

Footage of the bizarre encounter, uploaded to the video-sharing platform TikTok on Tuesday (local time) by Morinico's cousin, shows the 17-year-old's pet dogs attempting to fight off the predator as it clambers atop the wall, which encloses a strip of decking area. The two cubs quickly scarper, but the mother stays behind to tussle with the three dogs.

The bear paws menacingly at a larger dog before appearing to grab at the smallest one, prompting Morinico to launch into action. The teen can be seen rushing at the bear and shoving it off the wall, before quickly gathering her pets and running inside. The bear scampers off. 

After footage of the dramatic rescue went viral - having amassed more than 60 million views and 8.4 million likes at the time of writing - the 17-year-old decided to speak out and address her brave intervention. 

"When I go over there to see what they're barking at I'm like, 'okay, that's a funny looking dog'," Morinico said in a clip shared to TikTok.

"I look it in the eyes, and the first thing I think to do is push it - push a bear, push an apex predator, man," she recalled. 

Morinico said she had to "protect my kids" after she saw the bear targeting her smallest dog, Valentina.

"She's the baby and as her slave, I have to protect her."

The 17-year-old escaped from the encounter relatively unscathed, suffering a sprained finger and scraped knee.

Her mother, Citlally Morinico, reacted to the daring rescue on Facebook, praising her daughter's "superhuman strength". She called it "one of the scariest moments in life".

Morinico's cousin, Stephanie Lopez Villalobos - who decided to share the footage after it was sent to their family group chat - told the Daily Mail the 17-year-old is "crazy brave".

A number of TikTok users acknowledged both the bear and Morinicio had been protecting their "babies", while others applauded the teen for her courage and quick-thinking.

"You are [the] dog mom of the century," said one. 

"Kudos to the dog mom, that's fierce," said another.

Morinico said bear sightings are common in their area during the summer months.