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Coyote Blamed in Death of Westport Puppy

A coyote is suspected of killing a small dog on Webb Road in Westport last month. But that doesn’t mean that all dog owners in Westport should be fearful, said Laura Simon, field director of the Urban Wildlife Program at the Humane Society of the United States.

“It’s been very rarely found that coyotes start out preying on dogs and cats,” said Simon. “Coyotes have a wide variety of food items to eat, so it’s not like they’re looking for a particular pet. In fact, if you look at places like Tucson, Ariz., it’s been found that, despite the availability of cats and small dogs, the bulk of a coyote’s diet was still small rodents and berries.”

On the night of Feb. 23, however, it is believed a coyote attacked and killed Henry, an 8-month-old West Highland Terrier that lived on Webb Road with the Brown family. James Brown, one of Henry’s owners, told police he had let Henry out in the backyard before bedtime, Capt. Sam Arciola said. Moments later, Brown heard barking and went outside. That’s when he found Henry, critically injured, and reportedly saw a coyote run by.

Henry was taken to Norwalk Animal Hospital, but veterinarians were unable to help him. Although the department receives phone calls about coyote sightings, Arciola said attacks on animals are not common.

“If people do spot a coyote, we encourage them to inform their neighbors and to contact the animal control officer,” Arciola said. “If the coyote appears sick or aggressive, people should call us immediately so we can assess the animal’s status.”

Although the coyote is the prime suspect, Simon said a number of other wild animals could have attacked Henry, such as a fox or even a large dog. But coyotes are sometimes responsible for attacks on small dogs and cats, she said, because they go after animals that won’t harm them.

“This coyote could have been in this area for a while, preying on other animals, and for some reason, attacked this dog,” she said. “This is the time of year where there are a lot of food limitations, in part because of the harsh winter. Many predatory animals have gone without food, so we expect to hear about more attacks.”

Simon said the best way to protect your dog or cat is to never let them roam free. Additionally, she said coyotes are often attracted to people’s homes by garbage, animal food left outside and other sources of food, such as birdfeeders. To minimize the risk of a coyote coming near your home, follow these simple tips .

Are you concerned about coyotes? Have you ever seen one in your neighborhood?

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