DURHAM, North Carolina (WTVD) --Holding his dogs a little closer, not letting either off their leash, Lamar Rowland is vowing to protect his two Maltese pups after a coyote snatched his third, Lily, right out of his own backyard.
"I hollered for her, I said 'get here, get here, Lily' but he was taking her back that way," said Rowland, motioning to the far edge of the woods that back up to his house on Pebble Creek Crossing in Durham. "It was too late."
The attack happened March 29 around 7:30 p.m. while Rowland was standing in the backyard next to Lily who had just stepped toward the woods.
He knew as soon as he heard her screech that it was a coyote that had gotten hold of her.
"It was a sound I'll never forget," he said. "And it's been heart-wrenching to me to hear that over and over, playing over in my mind that I could not do anything to help her at that time."
Over the last year, he says he's spotted them roaming in the woods behind his house, howling early in the morning or late in the evening.
In recent weeks, Rowland said the coyotes have gotten more aggressive, chasing after the dogs, even staring him down at times.
As he listened to the sound of Lily growing faint and deeper into the woods, he rushed his other two dogs inside, grabbed his shotgun and a flashlight and went after her.
Unable to find any trace of his dog that night or the next day, Rowland called the NC Wildlife Resources Commission which urged him to be vigilant and consider hiring one its recommended licensed trappers; Rowland said one is coming out to his home this week to survey the land.
The Wildlife Resources Commission also encourages pet owners to always use a leash, don't leave pet food outdoors, and secure trash can lids. You can cut back the brush in your backyard to eliminate places for wildlife to hide.
Rowland, who's been warning his neighbors to be alert, said he and wife are now also considering installing a fence along the tree line in their backyard as well.
"My dog was like my child but I don't want a child to get bitten or taken out of someone else's yard because of coyotes," he said.
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