On Monday, Edmonton Balwin resident Barbara Boake took her nine-year-old Shih Tzu cross, Coco, outside, not knowing the danger that was lurking nearby.
“Coco needed to go to the washroom, and I come out with her. We’re sitting out here, and then I decided I needed to go inside for a second, so I thought she was fine because she never leaves the yard,” Boake explained.
She said she was only in the house for a few minutes, but when she came out, Coco was gone. She went out looking for her but didn’t have any luck.
Then, a neighbour spotted the small dog lying in a yard across the street.
“He says, ‘She’s not in good shape.’ And I went, ‘What?’ Like, I was shocked.”
After quickly trying to clean Coco up, Boake and a neighbour took her to the emergency vet.
The prognosis was bad. Coco’s injuries were severe.
“She was all chewed up by the neck, and I believe she had a broken back. I know she had a broken shoulder,” Boake said.
In the end, Boake had to let Coco go.
“It was terrible. I was in tears the whole time. They let me say goodbye to her.”
Colleen Cassady St. Clair is a biological sciences professor at the University of Alberta and an expert in coyotes.
“I’m really sorry to hear about this pet attack and [am] sympathetic to the owner. That must have been a terrible thing to discover,” St. Clair said.
She said while coyotes may see large dogs as competition, small dogs can quickly become prey.
“Fatal dog attacks like this one aren’t common, but they are more common than they used to be,” St. Clair said.
“There’s been several reported in the last year, and people are reporting more aggressive behaviour by coyotes generally as well.”
St. Clair said pet owners can protect their animals using a tall, solid fence around their yard.
“More important though, would not be letting your pet be unaccompanied outside of the fence even for a few minutes. Coyotes can be really opportunistic, and they’re often watching us when we’re not even aware of it,” she explained.
Boake regrets leaving Coco alone outside that day, even if only for a short time.
“I’m taking it as a learning lesson, and I just hope people will listen and not let their cats and dogs out,” she said.
She doesn’t want any other families to go through the pain she is in.
“My heart is broken.”
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