Poodle survives attack of coyotes
November 11, 2005
Little Maya is a survivor.
Last month, the six-pound dog was attacked by two coyotes and sustained four large puncture wounds to her neck.
Now, she’s just a little puffy poodle again.
“That was a very lucky dog,” said Carrie Turner, a veterinarian with Alpine Animal Hospital. “We’re talking about a toy breed and a coyote, and usually the coyote wins.”
Turner estimated the animal hospital sees one pet a week attacked by coyotes. They usually require expensive surgery to survive.
The cunning canines are seen more and heard more at this time of year because spring pups are learning to hunt, according to Cheryl Millham with Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care.
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Maya’s owner, Rodolpho Maya-Garcia, has a yard surrounded by a 6-foot-tall wooden fence. When he came upon the scene of the attack inside his yard, the coyotes dropped the poodle and ran off.
Maya-Garcia said it’s hard not to want to kill a coyote after it attacks your pet.
But Millham said there are other answers to the problem, and killing the animals could actually make it worse.
“Only the alpha pair breed in a coyote family,” Millham said. “If they are blown away, or killed or poisoned, then every female in that pack will breed. Disrupting the family unit will result in more multiplying.”
It is illegal to shoot a gun within South Lake Tahoe city limits, or within 200 feet of a home in El Dorado County. It is also illegal in California to leave poison out where wildlife could eat it.
A plate of wet dog food covered in rat poison was found on a jogging trail this summer near Pioneer Trial, the Tribune reported. Some suspected it was left for coyotes, but were concerned the poison posed a danger to pet dogs and children.
A good defense is pepper spray, Millham said. A product on the market right now called Counter Assault shoots up to 30 feet away. It can make an animal feel very afraid and not want to return to your property ever again, Millham said.
While it is rare for coyotes to jump a wooden fence, they commonly climb chain-link fences. Maya-Garcia suspected one of his neighbors was giving them food.
“That just does nothing but draw more into a neighborhood and change their hunting behavior until they are a problem,” Millham said.
Pet owners should always walk their pets on leashes and keep cats inside, Turner said. Millham recommended an enclosed dog run in the back yard with a chain link top.
The wildlife center has been home to more than 40 animals at once, from beavers to great horned owls and eagles. But a large part of Millham’s volunteer service to the community is educating the public on how to coexist with wildlife.
“There’s all sorts of little tricks that we can use to help these nuisance problems. The animals don’t have to be killed,” Millham said.