2 dogs survive coyote attack; 1 dog dies

RANCHO SANTA FE, Calif. - A coyote killed a 3-year-old Jack Russell terrier and injured two other dogs in a rare daytime attack in the yard of a Rancho Santa Fe residence, and officials with the Helen Woodward Animal Center Thursday issued a warning in hopes of preventing similar incidents.

According to officials with the center, Evon Warner left her four dogs in her fenced back yard as she left to run an errand about 11 a.m. Wednesday. When she returned less than an hour later, she found her 2-year-old Dachshund Heiny suffering from bite wounds to his stomach and shoulder; her 8-year-old Poodle-terrier mix, Lily, with severe wounds to her head and neck; and 9-year old Shih Tzu, Mikey, uninjured.

The Jack Russell terrier Wyatt was fatally injured.

"I'm sure he was protecting them," Werner told center officials. "He was fearless. He had to distract the coyote to save them."

Werner said neighbors told her they had heard noises then saw a coyote jumping over her 7-foot steel fence.

A coyote bite to the neck tends to be fatal as coyotes instinctively break the necks of their victims, according to the Helen Woodward Animal Center.

The two injured canines were treated at Helen Woodward's Companion Animal Hospital and were placed on antibiotics and pain medication, according to animal center officials.

Helen Woodward Animal Center and the Companion Animal Hospital staff said pet owners should keep pets inside between dusk and early morning -- when coyotes hunt primarily hunt for food -- and use a short leash if heading outside for a bathroom break. Pet owners should also avoid leaving food in their yards, including pet food and fruit that has fallen from trees.

Nighttime walks should be avoided, or if absolutely necessary, pet-owners should use a very short leash.

Backyard fences should be at least 6 feet high to prevent coyotes from leaping over. Coyotes are also known to dig, so animal center officials recommended installing a vinyl lattice 2 to 3 feet below ground.

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