A Prince George man says his loyal golden labrador, Charlie, saved him after he crossed paths with a black bear in the woods outside Prince George on Saturday afternoon.

Tony Manuge, 52, was walking his dogs, Charlie and Jake, a four-month-old black lab puppy, on a trail near the University of Northern British Columbia when a black bear "burst out of the underbrush" and charged him.

Manuge said the bear, a sow, had two cubs nearby.  The animal was about 15 metres from Manuge. 

He said he backed away slowly, raising his voice and his arms to scare the bear off.

But at that same moment, Charlie ran at the bear.

Dog saves man

"He went on the offensive and basically saved me from being mauled," Manuge said. 

Charlie, he said, grabbed onto the bear and bit it on the back. Manuge approached the duelling animals in a bid to save his dog.

 "I grabbed Charlie away from her."

The bear made a couple of false charges at Manuge and retreated back to the underbrush.

The sow's cubs then moved into the woods and their mother followed.

Charlie suffered puncture wounds to his back and bad cuts to his groin that required stitches, but he's doing well, Manuge said.

Warning to pet owners

Dave Bakker, the president of a Prince George wildlife group, says the weekend encounter is a reminder to dog owners to keep their pets under control.

 "Unleashed or uncontrolled animals are usually the main cause for any type of conflict that happens in the forest," Bakker said.

 B.C.'s Conservation Officer Service says in this case the bear was acting normally and will not have to be killed or moved. 

In June, a different sow attacked a runner with an unleashed dog at the same park. That bear was destroyed.

Manuge is certain Charlie saved his life.

"[The bear] was coming for me and she wasn't slowing down," he recalled. "I am just really grateful that I was able to get in there and get him (Charlie) back.

With files from Jordan Tucker