81-year-old grandmother recounts surviving bear attack

The New Jersey grandmother who fought off a 300-pound bear says she survived the mauling only because her beloved spaniel, Amanda, sacrificed her life in a valiant struggle with the beast.

“I survived, because he took the dog. If he had not taken the dog, he probably would have gotten rid of me,” Carol Neighbour, 81, told The Post in her first interview since the bloody and terrifying Monday night attack.

At around 7 o’clock, she had just let out Amanda, her 14-year-old springer spaniel, and her daughter’s dog, a “very fast” Vizsla — only to see them confront two bears that were eating her trash, according to Neighbour and Sparta Township police.

“When I turned on the light and the dogs starting running at them and barking, the big bear ran away,” she said.

The smaller bear — still formidable at over 300 pounds, according to officials — attacked Amanda.

Neighbour sprang to her dog’s defense — prompting the bear to turn on her.

Carol Neighbour posing with her spaniels in happier times.

“I was punching at him and yelling,” recalled the widow, who added her blows had almost no effect.

The bear bit into Neighbour’s leg, leaving a gash that required stitches to close, Sparta Township cops told told CBS2.

“He knocked me to the ground and took the dog,” Neighbour recalled sadly of Amanda.

“When they finally found her in the woods, they took her to the vet and she couldn’t be saved,” said Neighbour, a retired manager at AIG insurance company. “We had to put her mother down this year, who was 17. It’s hard losing two in the same year.”

A Facebook post shows Amanda with a second spaniel, likely her mother.

Her daughter’s dog was unscathed.

Black bears are common in mountainous Sussex County in northern New Jersey and while human-bear encounters are becoming more common, bear attacks are “extremely rare,” state DEP rep Larry Hajna said.

A black bear in the woods.
Black bears are common in Neighbour’s area.
Getty Images/Fotosearch RF

DEP data shows one attack on a person in 2020 and none in 2021. The last recorded human fatality from a New Jersey black bear was in 2014.

Neighbour, a grandmother of five, is an animal lover who works at a local dog rescue.

Government officials plan to put the pooch-killing bear down — once they find it.

“They went out looking that night … but they didn’t find the bear,” Neighbour said. “I have a bear trap in my driveway now.”

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