Viral video of polar bear patting dog takes dark turn after sled dog killed and eaten

Earlier this week, a cute video of a polar bear "patting" a dog made the Internet go "oooh" and "aaah" over the heartwarming sight.

The YouTube clip was taken by part-time tour guide David De Meulles in a Canada dog sanctuary in Churchill, Manitoba and posted online last Sunday (Nov 13).

It has hit more than 1.4 million views since.

But the story took a dark turn on Friday, when it was reported that a sled dog that was tied up at the sanctuary was killed and eaten by a polar bear.

Conservation officers removed three bears from the sanctuary, which is run by resident Brian Ladoon, Canada's CBC News reported.

The bear which killed the dog was "immobilised" and taken to a holding facility, an officer told CBC.

A mother and a cub were also removed because they were being fed and "the females' behaviour was becoming a concern".

People are now questioning Ladoon's practice of feeding the predators. Regarding the dog's death, he told CBC: "That was the only day we didn't feed the f--king bears, the only night we didn't put anything out."

Polar bears are an endangered species, and Manitoba laws forbid feeding them, as this interferes with their natural behaviour.

Ladoon said he was "taking care" of the bears.

Ian Stirling, an adjunct professor at the University of Alberta, told CBC that it is possible the polar bears have learnt to associate dogs and humans with food, and this could get them into trouble in future.

They could encounter other remote human communities in the Arctic, try to enter them and be killed by locals fearing for their safety.

He also criticised Ladoon for tying up the dogs in the open where polar bears roamed.