‘A big squeal’: Woman recounts coyote attack seriously injuring Yorkie

A Markham woman is sharing her story about a frightening coyote attack which left her 9-year-old Yorkie seriously injured.

Despina Valkanis was walking her dog, Clyde, on Walkerville Road near White’s Hill Avenue, in the Cornell neighbourhood on Sunday evening around 7:45 p.m.

Wearing headphones, she didn’t realize the coyote was following them.

“I heard my dog yelp for help. Like a big squeal. He was in the mouth of the coyote,” she recounted.

“My first instinct was to save him, so I grabbed on to him. At the same time, something bit me, I’m not sure if it was my dog or the coyote. There was quite a bit of blood.”

Valkanis is thankful Jessie Pushell, who was across the road, saw the coyote and tried to scare it away.

Clyde, a 9-year-old Yorkie, is photographed before he was attacked by a coyote (Supplied). “I was trying to get her attention, I was screaming at the top of my lungs, trying to run after her. Because I figured it might grab the dog. I screamed so loud some neighbours came out,” said Pushell.

Clutching Clyde, Valkanis ran home where she got in touch with a vet. He required three hours of emergency care. She then went to the hospital to get care for her bite.

Not knowing if her bite was from Clyde or the coyote, it was recommended she get the rabies shot to be safe.

Valkanis said she’s been aware of coyotes in the area, with more sightings during the pandemic, but didn’t realize they would approach in daylight. She said she won’t walk alone or while wearing headphones anymore.

While Clyde is small, Valkanis said he was brave during the attack.

“Clyde bit him. To protect himself he’s lost a lot of teeth,” she said.

Clyde’s tooth is photographed (Supplied). Valkanis wants others to be aware of coyotes and the potential danger they pose to pets. She recommends people keep emergency vet contact information nearby in case of emergency.

Neighbours told CTV News Toronto they have observed a coyote in the field next to the sidewalk where the attack took place.

“We have so many coyotes here, you go on our neighbourgood website and you see people posting about it all the time and it’s very, very scary so people are afraid,” said Pushell.

Despina Valkanis’ dog, Clyde, was attacked by a coyote on Sunday night (Supplied).

Coyotes and Safety

In a statement to CTV News Toronto, City of Markham recommends residents keep their dogs on a short leash, no longer than six feet in length and carry a garbage bag. If there is an encounter, snap the garbage bag to scare the coyote away.

“Do not run from a coyote, slowly back away, making yourself look big and making noise. They are more scared of you than you are of them.”

The city said incidents can be reported to animal care services by calling 905-415-7531.

The city said it has received one report of a coyote attack in 2022. Valkanis said she has not yet reported her attack, but plans to do so.

The city said it is not seeing an increase in attacks.

“We are experiencing roughly the same number of calls relating to coyotes as we did in 2021. With our increased public education and community outreach as well as the implementation of the strategy, residents are becoming more aware of their presence and reaching out to the city for guidance.” 

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