Protecting Your Precious Pets from Coyotes


You may recall the news last winter when dogs were being targeted by coyotes, warranting local police to warn pet owners to keep a close eye on their dogs. Coyotes are a common sight in Dutchess County – especially in Millbrook, Clinton Corners, and other towns – due to our large wooded areas, farms, and many deer (great coyote meals!)  I live on a large horse farm with many acres of  surrounding woods, and just last night as I out with my dogs, I heard a large group of coyotes seemingly very close, apparently celebrating a fresh meal. Its an unmistakeable sound, and can be very unsettling.

Like many animals, coyotes can grow accustom to human activity, with coyotes seen in residential areas rarely threatening human safety, but they will attack and kill pets, especially cats and small dogs. In January 2014, I lost my beloved 13lb rat terrier, Oliver, to coyotes – IN MY BACK YARD! It was a horrible experience, both for me as well as for my other dog, who witnessed it. Its not something I ever want to hear happening to anyone else. So what can you, as a pet parent, do to protect your pet from a coyote threat?

Prevention is Key!

While it’s always good to know what you can to do to help your pet in the event of a coyote attack, it’s even better to know what you can do to prevent one.

  1. NEVER feed coyotes! Feeding not only endangers your family and your neighbors as it lures coyotes into your residential area, but it is also illegal in Connecticut. Be sure to eliminate any food sources that may attract the wild animals, including bird seed and pet food, and ensure your outdoor garbage bin is closed at all times, with bags inside securely tied shut.
  2. NEVER assume that a fence will keep a coyote from entering your yard. Coyotes are amazing athletes and can leap over 7-foot high fences with ease. Do not leave your pet unattended outdoors, unless in a completely enclosed run, especially at night. When I lost Oliver, it was after dark and I had just gone inside for a flashlight. I was inside no more than 15 seconds. But that is all it takes when a coyote knows there are critters around and is stalking your yard.

    Check the perimeter of your yard often for signs of an unwanted animal’s presence. If you do find an unwelcome animal in your yard, keep your pets inside and call Animal Control immediately. I didn’t connect the dots, but for about a week prior to my incident, my large dog, Chloe, was very alert and would bark and lunge toward one far corner of my yard. I believe the coyotes were lurking in the wooded area just beyond the edge of my yard, checking things out. I just didn’t make the connection.

  3. NEVER allow your pet to roam at night. No matter how stealthy your cat may be, she can easily fall victim to an even stealthier coyote. If your cat must go out, at least keep her inside during the coyotes’ prime hunting hours, which are early evening through early morning.
  4. NEVER be unprepared. Keep noisemakers, such as an air horn or whistle, on hand at all times in the event a coyote wanders into your yard, or approaches while you’re walking your dog.Always keep a well-stocked pet first aid kit readily available. You can purchase a pre-stocked kit, or confer with your vet as to what items he recommends so you can create your own. As important as the contents of your first aid kit is instructions on how to use each item in the event of an emergency.
  5. Be sure to keep your pet’s ID tag and/or microchip information current, as a scare from a wild animal may cause him to high tail it out of there, and you want to ensure a happy reunion.

If a Coyote Threatens to Attack

If you and your pet are ever in the dire situation where a coyote threatens to attack, here are a few tips that just may save your pet’s life.

  1. If you and your pet are approached by a coyote, don’t run away. Yell, clap your hands loudly, use your noisemaker, wave your arms, throw sticks and rocks, and/or try to make yourself look larger. Your display of aggression will likely scare the animal away.
  2. If your pet is small, pick him up. Do not crouch down beside him! Try to stay calm and quiet and move slowly toward other people, or a car, building, or other shelter.
  3. If your pet is within the confines of your yard and a coyote threatens to attack, use your water hose and sprayer to scare him away.

Know what threats are lurking outdoors, work with your vet to have a plan in place in the event of an attack, and do your best to avoid a potentially dangerous encounter with a coyote, or any other wild animal.

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