Coyote attacks small dog

Veterinarian: With coyote attacks on the increase, pet owners must take precautions

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  • Beau

  • The eastern coyote, like the one pictured, has been pushed out of its usual habitat and now lives in closer proximity to humans, according to Dr. Joan Gramazio of Monroe Animal Hospital.

“Coyotes will attack anything smaller than them. Make sure your dogs and cats are up-to-date with their rabies vaccine, and do not leave them unattended or outside at night. If you have chickens or rabbits, make sure they are penned up at night."
Dr. Joan Gramazio, Monroe Animal Hospital

By Ginny Privitar

— Beau, a Bichon Frise that belongs to Ken Steger of Goshen, was attacked last week by a coyote.

Steger, who owns Bee Well Pets in Monroe, lives in a rural area off Route 94, between Chester and Florida. He'd heard coyotes howling at night on his large property but wasn’t prepared for last week's terrifying experience.

“It was about 9:30 at night," Steger said. “I heard barking, and where I live I don’t really have any neighbors. I thought it was strange.”

His dogs ran out through the doggie door in the garage. Steger then heard yelping, as if a dog was hurt. He tore out of the house and in the dim light saw that a coyote had Beau by the throat, and was dragging him quickly toward the brush. Steger continued running and, as he was gaining on them, the coyote dropped the dog.

“I was a lunatic," Steger said. "I was screaming. I didn’t have a stick or a gun or anything — I was just waving my arm and screaming. Twenty-five more feet and the coyote would have been in the brush, and it would have been over.”

Beau had two puncture marks and blood in its mouth. Steger took his injured little dog to the Monroe Animal Hospital, where, he says, Beau received excellent care. Veterinarian Dr. Joan Gramazio treated Beau's wounds and gave him penicillin and a rabies booster shot.

Coyotes watch, and wait

Dr. Gramazio told Steger the coyotes must have known he had small dogs and were probably watching the house. Steger thinks the coyotes may even have lured his dogs out with their barking. The vet also warned that the coyotes might be back.

“We’ve seen a few more dogs and cats coming in that have had contact with coyotes," Dr. Gramazio said.

The coyotes’ habitat has been reduced, with humans pushing into their areas, she said. And now they're living among us.

Dr. Gramazio's own Pomeranian, which she'd rescued and adopted, has also been attacked by a coyote.

“Coyotes will attack anything smaller than them," she said. "Make sure your dogs and cats are up-to-date with their rabies vaccine, and do not leave them unattended or outside at night. If you have chickens or rabbits, make sure they are penned up at night."

She said coyote attacks on children were unusual. "But if they’re rabid, they’ll attack anything,” Dr. Gramazio said. “They attack in packs. The most important thing is that people have to vaccinate their pets whether they’re indoor or outdoor pets. If you live in an area where there is a lot of wildlife, once a year your pet should be given a rabies vaccine. It’s New York State law, too. If your animal comes in contact with a coyote, bring them in for a booster shot.”

If you see a coyote on your property that's staggering or otherwise acting in an unusual way, or hunting during the day, call your local police, she advised.

“We’ve had a few cases of rabies-positive wildlife," Dr. Gramazio said. "Raccoons and skunks are the biggest groups that carry it. Any animal infected with rabies will pass it to other animals it comes in contact with. The only way to keep rabies down is to vaccinate to protect animals and humans.”

Steger said he didn’t call the police but is now thinking of writing about the incident on Facebook to warn others. He can’t fence his whole property, he said. But now he's super-vigilant, keeping a close eye on his dogs and only letting them out in the fenced-in yard behind his house.

Keep your pets in at night, he urges.

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