Coyotes and Pets

One-eyed Mr. Toad
One-eyed Mr. Toad

In many areas of the United States, even those that have been inhabited by humans for years, coyotes and pets can come face to face in violent confrontation with the odds of winning heavily in the coyote's favor. After experiencing this first hand, I have talked to others in the neighborhood that have lost their beloved pets to coyotes. One gentleman related witnessing a pair of them working together to outwit a small dog that got loose.

Several Tuesday’s ago I was sitting in my favorite Lazy Boy writing an article when Mr. Toad (my pug) jumped up from a dead sleep growling and barking at some unseen distraction in the backyard. The blinds were half closed to block the sun, so I couldn’t see what he was focusing on and since he does this a lot – I paid no attention. Probably a dove or a rabbit I thought.

Coyote Sighting

The sliding glass door was open and Toad dutifully charged after whatever intruder had dared to enter his domain. I continued to write, figuring he would be back within moments.

Now, I have a significant hearing loss and didn’t hear any commotion, so I still can’t figure out how I knew something was wrong but somehow I did. I found myself dashing out into the backyard just in time to see the back end of a bushy-tailed coyote leaping over our 5 foot fence. In that split second, I have to admit that I was impressed at how effortlessly he (she?) did so.

I was in shock – did I really just see that? The suburb I live in backs up to a large hill where coyotes, crows and rabbits by the thousands reside, so yes it is possible that this could happen. I’d seen a coyote before as a silhouette on the crest of the hill at twilight.

The coyote effortlessly jumped the side fence here.
The coyote effortlessly jumped the side fence here.

Damages to Mr. Toad

I turned to look for Mr. Toad and saw him scampering indoors and take sanctuary at the back of the Lazy Boy, a spot he retreats to from time to time. His back was toward me and I couldn’t see anything wrong, but there was the unmistakable smell of blood. I got down on my hands and knees to investigate and what I saw was sickening. I immediately grabbed my cell phone and called the vet.

Bulging out of its socket and bleeding. I could see Toad’s left eye was blind and filled with blood  - there was no pupil, just a pale pink orb. Puncture marks above and below the eye where the coyote had nipped him seemed a bite of warning and not meant to destroy.

As bad luck would have it, I didn’t have a car that day. My husband was out in the field and would be for most of the day. The vet tech who answered the phone wasted no time in jumping in her car and retrieving him without my asking. Thank heaven for compassionate vet techs!

Coyotes and Pet Safety

$1500 later and wearing one of those awful plastic cones, Toad is minus one eye, but making a speedy recovery. He’ll be fine in another week or two and would probably risk his life again without a second thought if it came to it. I’ve often wondered since that day why the coyote didn’t kill him when he could easily have done so. Mr. Toad is very lucky to be alive.

What is the point of this story? Coyotes were here long before humans showed up and they have adapted in their will to survive. They are smart and cunning and won’t think twice about stealing and eating your cat or dog. It’s perfectly natural for them to do so. If you have coyotes and pets living side by side in your own area, don't assume something like this could never happen - it can! Please take precautions and don’t leave your pet alone outside, particularly if they are small.

UPDATE (August 2011): The county game warden was in our neck of the woods recently investigating multiple complaints on recent backyard coyote sightings. More than one had lost a small dog (we have mostly dogs in this neighborhood). He stated he was alarmed by the growing trend of coyotes hunting within human sight. This boldness can possibly transcend to attacking children if they happen to be in the way.

Suggestion from the warden on what NOT to do...

1) He said there were people who have been leaving dog food out for the coyotes thinking it would keep them away from their pets. This is the absolute worst thing to do! It simply encourages their aggressiveness.

2) Never let your small dog out alone, especially at night or in the dawn hours. You may never see them again. Reconsider walking a small dog during these hours if possible - you never know when that line will be crossed for a coyote to attack regardless of your presence.

Comments 9 comments

Teylina profile image

Teylina 5 years ago

Bloggering, I can hardly imagine your horror, shock, and initial fear. I've been long aware that many creatures are "crossing over" (for want of a better phrase) to the other side of a domain. With that hill, it was inevitable that some sort of clash would occur somehow, someway, some day. So sorry it happened the way it did. You put up a fence to protect your own, and Mr. Toad fearlessly protected you (if the door was open!). I'm with you in wondering why the coyote didn't kill him, but it may be that Mr. Toad caught him off-guard. Even though they can be vicious, and your final paragraph says it all, perhaps that coyote, that day, didn't really know what he/she was getting into when it jumped the fence in! Frightening experience. Good hub. Thank you. Glad you are both all right, just sorry he lost an eye--better than his life--and thanks for some vets!!!

bloggering profile image

bloggering 5 years ago from Southern California Author

Thanks for your sympathetic comments Teylina - I really appreciate them. I still keep the door open, but keep the screen door shut. I should have been doing that in the first place!

Teylina profile image

Teylina 5 years ago

Might be a deterrent! Maybe just peace of mind. Peace to you after such a nightmare. Pet Mr. Toad extra for me.

sagebrush_mama profile image

sagebrush_mama 5 years ago from The Shadow of Death Valley...Snow Covered Mountain Views Abound!

I live in the boonies, and the coyotes come right up to the fence, at times, in the night, yipping and howling. That's frightening, at times, but they tend to move on their way, sort of a snub at our dogs, who are confined to the yard by the fence. Sorry you went through this!

bloggering profile image

bloggering 5 years ago from Southern California Author

I had no idea they were so bold! Thanks for your comment Sagebrush Mama :-)

Diana Lee profile image

Diana Lee 5 years ago from Potter County, Pa.

We have coyotes here, too. But I have been lucky not to have them get that close. I have pets. My dogs have a fence, but my cats are free to roam. Thank you for the awareness and so glad your dog is going to be okay.

bloggering profile image

bloggering 5 years ago from Southern California Author

Thanks Diana - Yes, he may be a one eyed dog now, but at least he's still with us!

tsmog profile image

tsmog 5 years ago from Escondido, CA

So, sad. One side of me says bring that coyote here to get that cat that eats my birds, but I don't really like that either. The other side says there has to be natural way to prevent this from happening again. I agree with Teylina that Mr. Toad was being protective maybe startling the coyote.

I use cat away, which is granules impregnated with fox/coyote urine to keep the cat away. What do we have to get to keep the coyotes away - a road runner (a little humor). Here is an article from the Fallbrook paper

bloggering profile image

bloggering 5 years ago from Southern California Author

Very interesting article. You know, we have bird feeders all over our backyard and it's usually full of birds. We have them nesting in nearby trees as well, so perhaps that could have attracted a coyote. Thanks so much for all your comments tsmog - I really appreciate it!

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