Coyote attacks dog in urban area, prompts warning for pet owners

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LAFAYETTE, Ind. (Nov. 11, 2014)-- A pet owner is warning others to beware of coyotes in urban areas after his dog was attacked by one right in front of his eyes.

Tod Presutti took his seven-year-old Cairn Terrier Lucy out as usual before work and attached her to a 40 ft leash in his backyard. He went into his house and a few minutes later got worried when she didn’t run back up to the door to be let in.

That’s when he came outside and saw Lucy in the grips of a hungry coyote.

“The coyote had her. The leash was... and my dog, about two feet off the ground,” he recalled.

At that point, the coyote was biting down on Lucy’s hind leg and Presutti walked towards them yelling and clapping his hands.

"The coyote dropped her and took off," he said. "She was mangled up pretty good around her neck."

Presutti rushed Lucy to Purdue Veterinary Teaching Hospital where Dr. Steve Thompson and his staff tried to save her. However Lucy’s injuries were so severe, Presutti and his family had to make the decision to have her euthanized.

"She was a great dog," said Presutti. “(I) never considered it as even a remote possibility that it might happen… but it did.”

Strangely, Dr. Thompson had just seen another dog injured by a coyote hours before Lucy and the similarities concerned him.

“What was really unusual was that we had a dog the previous day come in from Frankfort so also a more city rather than rural area,” he said.

Thompson said with fox numbers down in Central Indiana, coyotes are growing in population. Winter months also bring them out and they may be starting to feel invited by unsuspecting homeowners.

"(Coyotes are) resourceful. They've adjusted quite well to suburban environments and they find trash cans put out as well. So it's not just intentional feeding, but they can even get on a weekly routine where they're gonna know when the trash bags end up on the streets."

He said pet owners should stay outside with their pets, especially smaller animals, and make sure they aren’t leaving food or trash out that could attract coyotes or the animals they prey on.

"It only takes a lightning fast strike for them to bite," said Thompson.

Persutti wishes he would’ve known better and wants other pet owners to be aware.

"I was ignorant. I didn't know there were any issues,” he said. “It cost my dog her life."

The Department of Natural Resources Division of Fish & Wildlife and Hamilton County Parks Department will be hosting a free program on how to deal with coyotes in urban areas on Dec. 3rd at Cool Creek Nature Center in Carmel. The program runs from 6 to 8 p.m. Those wishing to attend should register by calling (317) 774-2500.