Coyotes are a real threat; if you have small dogs then you need to be aware. The species lives just about everywhere throughout North America, Central America and Mexico. It is an opportunistic hunter and will eat anything from vegetation and nuts to larger animals such as chicken, sheep, cats and dogs. They have been very successful with the integration of their species into populated areas and are commonly seen running down streets. I have seen many here in Southern California; while out at parks or driving around. Just yesterday morning one ran down the street in front of me on my way back from the gym. I had been to the gym later so it was surprising for me to see at around 9:00 am. I first thought that it was a German Shepherd mix running off leash with it's boys. But when it turned to look over it's shoulder at them I realized that it was a coyote; and a big, well fed coyote at that. I followed it for a bit and then headed home to make sure that Luke was not out.
I have heard many stories of dogs being taken by coyotes. I can't imagine, it was one of my greatest fears and a constant worry when I had Jessie. I have heard of more Jack Russell's being taken than any other dog. Perhaps it is the tough attitude that a JRT has the gives owners a false sense of security. Whereas most people who have tiny Chihuahua type dogs know that they are vulnerable. But it is not just the tiny ones who are taken. The largest dog that I know taken was a Brittany Spaniel; they are a substantial sized dog. This dog was taken out of it's own backyard by a pack of coyotes. She was old and didn't stand a chance against a healthy young coyote pack. Such a sad way to go.
Am I an alarmist? No, not at all. I love all wildlife and have great respect for it. Yesterday's spotting was simply a reminder to me that they are around. Sometimes I forget now that I don't have any small ones around. Of course Penny visits often but I'd like to see them try to take her. One snap of that powerful jaw of hers would have them realizing that they were after the wrong dog and head for the hills. If they are in your area you should be aware. While photographing a couple of Kuvasz several years back we were graced by a coyote on the scene. It was perfect timing and gave me the shot I needed to make the cover of the magazine. Kuvasz are bred to protect their heard and when the coyote showed up they kicked into gear. It was very interesting.
Just recently I heard of a family losing their small dog to a coyote. This was more east of us and a known place for lots of coyotes. It takes but a moment for them to snatch a dog. They grab and run; they do not stand and fight to the death there in front of you. Another woman with a Jack Russell who I know had a tug-o-war with her dog and a coyote. Lucky for her the dog was on a leash and she was able to fight back. She got her dog back with huge punctures in it's rib cage. She head straight to the Vet and the dog was saved.
Coyotes are opportunists so if we humans fail to keep our dogs safe; they will take the opportunity. As far as cats go? Don't even get me started there. I've been witness to cat deaths by coyotes far too often and do not understand cats at large with the threat of coyotes around. I just don't get it. But then again, this is about dogs. Keep yours safe.