Pooch survives coyote attack outside its home

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BRADENTON, FL. - A small dog has survived a coyote attack in a Bradenton neighborhood. It happened outside the dog's home on 26th Avenue Court West, near G.T. Bray Park. And the whole thing was witnessed by the terrier's owner.

It's not uncommon to find coyotes living among us on the Suncoast, and these stories of pets being attacked are not rare by any means. Fortunately in this case, the dog survived -- but like its owner, remains traumatized.

12-year-old Tuffy is one tough pooch. Just outside the house is where the incident happened. Donna Martin let Tuffy out to go to the bathroom, when all of a sudden... “I heard a screeching noise, kind of like a wheel turning at a real high pitch.”

Martin soon discovered that noise was actually a scream coming from her 12 pound dog, as it struggled to break away from the mouth of the vicious carnivore. “I was screaming at the coyote. Fortunately, the coyote dropped Tuffy and took off running toward the field behind my neighbor’s house.”

Tuffy, bleeding profusely, sustained puncture wounds to the head and throat. Thankfully, vets patched her up. But she remains frightened of her surroundings. “She won't leave my side. We walk her out and she stays right next to me. She is pretty scared,” says Martin.

Since the attack, the coyote believed responsible, or perhaps a different one, has been spotted by the neighborhood mailman. He snapped a photo during a recent delivery.

“Coyotes are being seen more now because they were pushed out of some of their territories in Bradenton as developing continues.” Damen Hurd is an animal expert with Wildlife, Inc. He says pets are easy targets for coyotes. “Most of these dogs and cats are domesticated. They are not used to being prey by a wild animal and sometimes they are lazier and not quick enough to get away.”

Fortunately, Tuffy did get away -- all thanks to her owner's voice. “Thank goodness. I guess my screaming scared it away and dropped her,” says Martin.

If your pet has an encounter with a coyote, there’s not a whole lot you can do. County animal services won't touch the animals, nor will the state. You can hire a licensed trapper, but experts like Hurd say removing one or even a few really won't do a whole lot.

So what's the best way to keep your pets safe? If they are outside, have them on a leash or in a fenced in area.

And keep this in mind -- for our own safety -- coyotes are really not a significant threat. The animals generally run away when detecting that a human is near.