Three local pet owners have reported losing their pets to coyote attacks just in the last week, the Helen Woodward Animal Center said Thursday. Now the center is issuing warnings to protect other cats and dogs.
In Rancho Santa Fe, neighbors have reported close calls with coyotes as they were walking their pets or watching them in the backyard.
"Whether hitting the trails on hikes or simply enjoying personal outdoor spaces, the Center reminds pet owners to stay diligent and practice coyote safety measures," the center wrote in a release.
The center theorizes that the increase in coyote encounters in San Diego may have something to do with last year's fire activity paired with heat, and recent housing developments.
All three of these factors have forced coyotes to seek food from outside their regular locations.
"It is important to remember that dogs (especially small ones) and cats are vulnerable to coyote attacks which can happen quickly and while owners are only feet away," experts from the center warned.
Late last month, Helen Woodward Animal Center veterinarians received a call from a concerned citizen who caught a small terrified dog, named 'Roadrunner,' on the run from neighborhood coyotes.
“We were concerned that Roadrunner may have been bitten and would require Rabies shots and months of downtime,” explained Animal Health Supervisor Madison Hughes, “But he was one of the lucky ones who managed to escape.”
Experts add if you see a coyote, never run away from it. Instead, make loud noises by yelling or banging objects together to scare it away.
Tips and Reminders from the Helen Woodward Animal Center to Keep Your Cats and Dogs Safe:
• Don’t keep pet food or water outside, especially at night
• Supervise your pets while outdoors, especially smaller dogs
• Pick up fallen fruit from trees in your yard.
• Keep your cat indoors, especially between dusk and dawn
• Thoroughly clean your grill and if possible store it in a garage
• Never leave dogs tied up outside
• Keep your dog on a leash on walks and hikes in order to keep them in close proximity
• Bring a whistle or bear spray along on hikes and walks
• Six-foot tall fences are most effective in keeping coyotes out. For extra protection “coyote runners,” devices that can be installed on the top perimeter of tall fences and cause a coyote to slip off when trying to hop over are effective.