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20hornet
06-04-2004, 10:26 AM
http://www.dnronline.com/story2.asp


City Woman Thinks
Coyote Killed Her Poodle

Dog Owner Worries About Neighborhood Children

By WILL MORRIS
Daily News-Record

A Harrisonburg woman who found one of her dogs lying dead in her yard said the animal was attacked by a coyote and thinks neighborhood children could be next.

Gaye Hensley, 50, raises show poodles in the fenced-in back yard of her 3187 Twin Oaks Drive home. She said that Saturday morning she heard yelping and went out to see if anything was wrong.

"It was about 9:30 Saturday morning. I had been out about six or seven times and heard a noise that sounded like an animal was trapped," she said. "When I walked out and went to the back one of the poodles was covered in blood."

Another poodle, a female named Francie, was dead, she said. Hensley said the poodle was ripped to pieces. At least two other dogs were injured in the melee.

Hensley never saw the attack but says she has seen coyotes on property adjacent to hers.

When she took the poodles to her veterinarian, she was told the dogs had been attacked by a coyote.

"Iím 95 percent sure it was a coyote," said veterinarian Terry Jessen of the Harrisonburg Animal Hospital. "The circumstantial evidence was great."

Jessen said he saw at least a dozen coyote attacks when he was a veterinarian in the Midwest, where coyotes are more common.

"The throat was ripped out and the shoulder was damaged," he said. "It would be really unusual for another domestic dog to break into a fence and kill another dog, but coyotes do."

Hensley said that since the attack happened, she has rebuilt the kennel that houses her dogs to make it coyote-proof. She doesnít let her dogs out for exercise unless she is watching over them, armed with a rifle. She is also worried that she, or worse, a small child, might be attacked by a coyote.

University of Virginia biology professor John Gittleman urges against hysteria, however. Biologists say that most attacks attributed to coyotes are actually the work of feral dogs.

"Unless a coyote is sick or there is no food around, itís unlikely theyíll attack dogs," he said. "Most wild carnivores avoid people."

Coyotes, like most wild canines, are animals of opportunity. Although their diet consists mostly of meat, coyotes also eat vegetation and are known scavengers, Gittleman said.

"It sounds to me as though itís a sick animal or a lot of food provoking an animal."