Coyote attacks Wake County woman's dog in backyard

WAKE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- Colleen Lawrence's 10-year-old terrier, Shortie, has some trouble breathing. His throat is swollen, but healing from several puncture wounds where a coyote grabbed him by the neck Saturday morning.

Lawrence was making coffee around 6:45 a.m. when she let Shortie out into her backyard in Wake County's Waterford Green neighborhood.

The dog was on the edge of the yard, where it backs up to woods, when Lawrence heard Shortie barking.

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"It was really quick," Lawrence said of the moment she looked up to see a coyote grab Shortie by his neck. "It just made this screeching noise and grabbed him."

As the coyote dragged her dog into the woods, Lawrence took off running after him, yelling for the wild animal to drop him.

"I didn't even think about the danger, I just wanted to get my dog," she said.

Turning back to get a flashlight and her teenage son to help, Lawrence spotted Shortie lying on the ground, about 50 feet from the edge of her yard, no coyote in sight.

Her neighbor, Michael Gavazzi, whose 6-month-old kitten Ovi, disappeared from his backyard the night before, came over to help.
"I could tell something was going on," Gavazzi said. "I heard the word, 'coyote' and 'Is he dead?' And 'Shortie.' And I'm processing this as a I woke up and really shocking--and I also was thinking, 'oh crap, Ovi.'"

Gavazzi spent the rest of Saturday combing the woods behind their houses, calling for Ovi while also looking for any signs of remains.

He captured cell phone video of a couple of coyotes in the woods last December, but said this is the first time a coyote has ever attacked one of their pets.

He and Lawrence have now changed their routines to keep their pets out of the backyard. They're urging their neighbors to keep a close eye on their own pets.

"I never thought that him just going in our backyard --I knew we backed to woods, but I guess I was just in denial -- and I wanted more people to know that it can really happen just in your backyard," Lawrence said.

The NC Wildlife Resources Commission says coyotes are rarely interested in humans, but pets can draw their attention. Officers recommend pet owners never leave their pets outside unattended, keep dogs on a 6-foot leash, and avoid feeding pets outside.
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