Bob and Irene McKeown were lucky to survive a terrifying encounter with a bear in California.

Surveillance video footage shows the couple leaving their holiday home, unaware that the bear was close behind them.

As the couple walked towards their car, they were followed by the young animal, which lunged at Bob McKeown.

After helping his wife into the vehicle, McKeown felt something on his leg.

"I closed the door and I looked.... a bear!" McKeown told news network KTLA. "You don't know how scared you are, you just see a bear. I've never encountered a bear," he added.

With his wife safely inside the vehicle, McKeown ran for the stairs to let himself back into the house.

But he did not escape unscathed; the bear had clawed at his right calf.

McKeown was admitted to hospital, where he was given a tetanus shot.

McKeown said he suffered "a couple of scratches and a wee bit of bruising" after his encounter with the bear, which is believed to have been searching for food in Pasadena, near Los Angeles National Forest.

The animal, which neighbours say is a regular visitor in the neighbourhood on days when rubbish is collected, is not thought to be a risk to public safety, according to game warden Charlie Healy.

"It's just a bear knocking through a neighbourhood," he said. "We're just going to let the problem fix itself."

Irene McKeown said they had recovered from the bear attack but were now suffering from being the butt of friends' jokes. "We're getting teased. They say how did you not see it?"

According to an article "Grizzly Bear Attack" published in the Journal of Emergency Medicine, there were 162 bear-inflicted injuries reported in the United States between 1900 and 1985. This works out as around two reported bear attacks per year.

Watch video footage of the bear attacking a Scottish couple