Coyotes prey on pets

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Jillian Sanders

The Sander’s dog, Levi, is an example of the results of many aggressive coyotes in the rural areas.

Hannah Ortega, Staff Reporter

Coyotes may be exciting to spot and cute to some, but they are wild, dangerous and deadly to small animals. For the Sanders family, it was a close call as their dog Levi was recently attacked by a coyote in their backyard in the River Oaks neighborhood.

“We live in a rural area and this is a risk with wild animals that can prey on pets,”  Willow Springs Middle School teacher Nicole Sanders said. “We shouldn’t have had the dogs out at night with coyotes close by but due to Christmas we got home later than expected. We are fortunate our lab/border collie mix was not hurt and that our cocker survived nine four inch deep lacerations.”

Levi was in the garage in his kennel with a cracked door so he could go out to relieve himself. The attack was not an effect of owner negligence. The Sanders came home around 9:30 p.m. and, while feeding the dogs, found that Levi was wounded and bleeding quite badly.

“My sisters inspected him and discovered that he had bite marks and open wounds inches deep. We thought it might have been from barbed wire, but he has gotten caught in barbed wire [before] and the injuries were completely different,” WSMS student Madeline Sanders said. “So, we inspected our other dog for any blood to see if she attacked him, but there were no signs so our best bet was the coyotes that come up into our backyard. One of our neighbors also said she heard coyotes near our house.”

With the school district located in a somewhat rural area, attacks like this are common.

“We see attacks from wild animals probably every few weeks,” Stacy Road Pet Hospital veterinarian Ben Haning said. “And a lot of times we don’t know which it is, whether it’s a bobcat or a coyote or what. It’s not uncommon for us to see dogs bitten by wild animals. I think [the number of coyote attacks in the area has] been about the same since I’ve been up here in this area, and we’ve been here for almost 11 years, and we’ve been seeing wild animal bites all that time.”

The attack was a shock to the Sanders.

“I was heart broken,” class of 2013 graduate Lauren Sanders said. “He’s my dog, I’ve had him since I was eight. We’ve left him outside in the yard thousands of times before, like most dogs do. I guess this was just a freak accident.”

Levi was taken to the vet, but, being an older dog, surviving his injuries was a major concern to his owners.

“[Levi] had some puncture wounds on his shoulders and we had to put in drains and that sort of thing. Most [animals that are attacked by a wild animal] do fine,” Haning said. “The smaller the animal the, probably, more risk there is. But we’ve seen [some] in pretty bad shape that needed a lot of surgery and had infections afterward [but] I’d say the majority of them do fine and heal up from their injuries.”

Levi is currently recovering from his injuries and his owners are keeping an eye out for the coyotes.

“We have seen the coyote on our property, but animal control won’t remove it,” Lauren said. “So right now we keep our dogs inside the gate’s pool area when they need to be let out and we are making sure they are as safe as possible.”

In order to ensure coyotes stay away from homes or if coyotes have been spotted around the neighborhood, it is suggested to take away all possible food sources, like trash cans, and put them in a safe place, as well as make sure there are no possible places for coyotes to hide around the house. In the past week, there have been five total attacks and accounts of missing animals in the River Oaks neighborhood and it is advised that anyone living near the area ensures their pets are watched over outside at night.