05/08/2012 08:45 pm ET

Karen Curran, Mom Wielding Toy Sword, Saves Family Dog From Bear Attack

Lilly the golden retriever was in dire straits last Wednesday night when a mother bear attacked her outside the pooch's home in Northampton, Mass.

But the 9-year-old dog is safe and sound today thanks to the bravery of her owner, Karen Curran, who chased off the bear with a toy wooden sword before Lilly was too badly hurt, the Republican reports.

"That bear would have killed my dog if I wasn’t there," Curran told the paper.

Karen Curran's husband Joe told WSHM that the incident occurred Wednesday night when Lilly spotted a small dark animal near the porch -- which turned out to be a black bear cub. When Lilly pursued the animal, its mother shot into view and immediately grabbed hold of the dog's neck.

After Karen Curran frightened the bear off, her 11-year-old son Sam tried to stop the bleeding as they rushed Lilly to Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Hospital in Deerfield.

If the bear had bitten just half an inch deeper into Lilly's neck, the dog may not have survived, according to a vet who spoke to WSHM.

Lilly is now recovering from her wounds and is among the lucky dogs to have survived bear attacks in the area in past years, according to wildlife experts.

"In the Northampton city limits, we've had at least three, perhaps four in the last five years and two of those dogs were killed," Ralph Taylor, district supervisor for the Connecticut Valley Wildlife District of the Massachusetts Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, told WSHM.

But Police Capt. Scott A. Savino told the Republican that the incident is the the first bear attack that police have responded to in quite some time, though he said city police have received around 20 complaints about bears since the beginning of the year.

According to the Wildlife Resources Commission in North Carolina, where there are about 9,000 black bears, the best course of action to take if confronted by a bear is to remain calm and back away.

"They are going to make a good show, but they're not going to do anything so the best advice is to retreat," Robbie Norville, a coastal supervising wildlife biologist for the commission, told Eyewitness News 9. "Retreat slowly. Yell at the bear, clap your hands, raise your hands up over your head, look larger than you really are, but just continue to retreat."

For more on this story, watch the video report above.