Eloise, an adorable, 8-year-old brown and white Chihuahua, was snatched by a coyote in Laguna Beach late last month. Coyotes grabbing outside pets is a relatively common occurrence in Southern California, but the attack on Eloise—who was never recovered—took place indoors. (The coyote jumped through a window to get to her). Even worse, the dognapping occurred in a room with an infant in it who, thankfully, was unharmed.
This scary story reminds us how closely we live to the urban wildlife that also calls L.A. home. Possibly because of the drought, sightings of coyotes in residential neighborhoods are up, so we asked Santa Monica veterinarian Dr. Michelle Jack what pet owners can do to make sure wild animals stay at a safe distance from our best friends. These are her suggestions:
- Don’t leave pets unattended outside or near open doors and windows—especially cats and small dogs.
- Coyotes are more active at dawn and dusk, so be more attentive at these times.
- Before exiting the house with your pet, turn lights on in your yard to check for wildlife.
- If you come across a coyote, wave you arms and make as much noise as you can to chase them away. Carry a whistle on your keychain or leash to use.
- Keep pets on short leashes (under six feet). Do not allow your pet off the leash to chase the coyote away.
- Always carry your cell phone with you when walking your pet so that you can call for help in case of an emergency.
- Keep your yard free of pet food and other edibles that might entice coyotes.
- Clean your grill after each use.
- Remove fallen fruit off the ground.
- Don’t assume a fence will keep a coyote out.