SANTEE, Calif. (KGTV) - A heartbroken dog owner in Santee is hoping to warn others after coyotes attacked her dog while she was walking him on a leash.
Presley, an eight-year-old Silky Terrier, was small with a big personality.
"Just a loving dog and wild personality. He would always protect me," said Michelle Cimmarrusti.
The instinct was on display around 5 a.m. Tuesday. On Palm Glen Drive, on the edge of her condo complex, Cimmarrusti was taking Presley out for a quick walk. Her retractable leash was stretched out about five feet.
"On the sidewalk near a bush, I felt Presley tug. Thought he wanted to sniff a bush. That's when the two dogs came out," said Cimmarrusti.
Cimmarrusti quickly realized they weren't dogs, but aggressive coyotes.
"Just horrifying. My brain just went numb at the time," said Cimmarrusti.
The protective Presley barked and lunged. As she pulled frantically on Presley, the clasp on her collar broke, and Presley took off. Cimmarrusti says it was a blur, but Presley and the coyotes ended up in the street before disappearing into the complex.
"I kept screaming at the top of my lungs for his name," said Cimmarrusti.
About ten minutes later, a neighbor found a bloodied Presley, who died in Cimmarrusti's arms on the way to the pet emergency clinic.
"I just couldn't get to him quick enough," she said, choking back tears.
She has since learned another dog was killed by a coyote in the same area weeks ago. Experts say coyotes attacking a leashed dog is a sign they're getting more aggressive in an area and getting less afraid of humans, whether it's food scarcity or the unintentional feeding of coyotes.
"Please be cautious. If I can help one person and their dog, I'll be grateful. Keep them on a tighter leash. Don't let them far and keep aware of your surroundings," said Cimmarrusti.