Chomped dog: Coyote blamed in pet mauling

news-zoieZoie, before a palm-sized piece of her hindquarter was bitten off, is recovering.

"It hit me in the back of the knees, bit her, and took off running," recalls Steve Farmer about what happened the night of April 18– a night, he says, when the family dog was mauled by a coyote.

Farmer and his wife, Liz, were sleeping when the sound of barking pierced their southeastern Albemarle home. Thinking some neighborhood dogs were chasing their donkeys in the field again, Steve got up and took their dog Zoie out with him.

As Zoie ran ahead on a retractable leash, something, according to Farmer, emerged from the woods near their property and knocked him down.

"At first I thought it was one of my daughter's dogs," says Farmer. But he heard no barking. And what happened to Zoie was gory.

The three-year-old, a miniature pinscher–- a breed developed to hunt vermin–- had slipped her collar and fled back to the house. When Liz Farmer found Zoie hiding behind a toilet, a chunk of flesh that she describes as "the size of the inside of your palm" had been pulled from Zoie's hip.

The Farmers show a reporter a photograph that gives ample evidence of the severity of the attack. Evidence about the perpetrator, however, has been harder to find.

"For a coyote to attack a dog with its owner present is very unusual," says Mike Dye, a wildlife biologist with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. "If it was trying to feed its pups is the only reason I can think of. Maybe the coyote is getting a little desperate; maybe it didn't see Mr. Farmer."

Brian Morse, a private wildlife biologist, says that eating pets–- or, as he puts it, "the dingo ate my baby"–- is not typical coyote behavior.

"I'm not in any position to refute that it was a coyote," says Morse, "but if it was, that is a freak occurrence. Coyotes are an opportunistic predator, and they're omnivores. They eat everything from grasshoppers, rodents, blackberries, and persimmons to a deer fawn."

Steve Farmer has no doubts that it was a coyote. His daughter saw one coming up the driveway that night, and two neighbors in the area, which lies just east of Ash Lawn-Highland, called to say they too have seen a coyote.

In February, the owner of a black Labrador in the Stony Point area reported that his dog, Buddy, had been attacked by a pack of coyotes. That, too, was considered a rare and/or unattributable attack by wildlife officials because the 90-pound Buddy is more than twice the size of a coyote, but the fact that coyotes inhabit Albemarle County is no surprise to hunters and farmers.

There's no official estimate of Virginia's coyote population, but if Mike Fies, also a wildlife biologist with the Game Department, were to speculate, he'd put the number at 50,000 to 75,000.

The Farmers are still shaken by the attack, but they say she Zoie is recovering.

"We'd used to let her out when we get home," says Steve. "Now when I go to the barn at night, I take a shotgun."

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Hollow point probably describes your head better than your weapon

Snap o' the Day!

Believe it or not- we've sat for 6 hours with raw meat, a sniper rifle with night vision and still no coyote... We've seen him around- but by the time we were able to get the gun he was gone....
- Zoie's mom

poor baby. glad she is OK!

Happy Hunting, Brittnee! It will be back. Just give it time.

I don't know who these experts are - but they are smoking something. Eating pets is what coyotees do best and they will snatch them right from under your nose. Coyotees are like cock roaches and they definately need to be controlled. I have nothing against wildlife as long as it stays in the wild and I pay good money to make sure the wild will continue to exists for them. We have had coyotees attack humans in New York, chase people in the park and kids home from school in Oregon, there was a 4 year old attacked and badly mauled on a documentory in his own back yard, and a 3 year old killed. According to my research the attacks are getting more bold and more frequent. I lost my own cat 10 feet from my front door and we had to basically fight off the coyotee to get him to let her go and that coyotee had no fear of us. He now has a mate and pups that are grown running with him. He weight is between 45 and 50 lbs (he looks more like a wolf) and he has been eating well as all the missing pet signs in our neighborhood will attest. Any experts that say this behavior is abnormal - well I can guess where they got their degrees - cracker jacks boxes for sure

50,000 to 75,000? That's scary. I guess I don't have to worry as I live in town but I did see a fox in my yard a couple of months ago. Are coyotes native to Virginia? I have lived here most of life and don't ever remember hearing about them until recently. If they aren't a native species they should be eliminated.

"aw meat + sniper rifle + patience =" total douchebag

Ugh, so I take it your a coyote lover? Well if you though Sick is a D, your just gonna love me!

I told my wife if I see a Coyote on our property I'll just put a .40 caliber hollow point in a non lethal spot so it can tell it's friends "not to come round' here no more"

*well if you think Sick is a D*

"Hollow point" was actually describing the ammo, not the weapon.
thanks in advance
I pity the fool who underestimates the problem we face with the increasing coyote population in our area.

raw meat + sniper rifle + patience = 1 dead coyote!