Owners of small dogs are being warned to keep their pets on a leash when out for walks after a Pomeranian owned by a West Vancouver woman was snatched by a coyote and killed in front of her.
The woman was out for a walk with the small dog in the area of Chelsea Close on Saturday afternoon when she noticed she was being followed by coyote, according to West Vancouver police.
Feeling concerned, the woman took refuge in nearby tennis courts and called police. But as police were making their way to the scene, the Pomeranian – which was not on a leash – bolted after the coyote.
The fight between the tiny pooch and the coyote didn’t go well for the Pomeranian. When the officer arrived, he saw the coyote with the dog in its mouth, said Const. Jeff Palmer, spokesman for the West Vancouver Police Department.
The coyote immediately dropped the dog and ran away. The officer then drove the woman and the dog to a nearby animal hospital, but the dog died of its injuries.
“It’s an unfortunate outcome,” said Palmer.
Police conducted patrols in the area following the incident but saw no sign of the coyote. Palmer said it’s likely the coyote was tracking the small dog rather than its owner, but police notified the conservation office.
In the meantime, police are advising pet owners to keep their animals close and on a leash when out for walks.
West Vancouver police said there haven’t been any other reports of coyotes acting aggressively in the area.
But a North Vancouver dog owner said he and his pair of small dogs were also recently followed when out for a walk in Parkgate Park next to the Northlands Golf Course. “I was walking my dogs and had them off the leash,” said Miles Gregorash. “I just happened to look over my shoulder and a coyote was walking behind me.”
Gregorash said he stood his ground and the coyote backed off. These days, Gregorash said he’s a lot more alert when out walking with the dogs – particularly given the number of missing dog and cat posters he sees up in the area.
Conservation officers say pet owners need to be smart about their animals, especially when they’re out walking near to wooded areas.
“Coyotes are definitely prevalent across the Lower Mainland,” said Clayton DeBruin, conservation officer for North Vancouver. “They’re one of the most successful and adaptable carnivores in B.C.”
DeBruin said coyotes will typically use ravines and greenbelts while hunting prey, which can include rabbits, squirrels, mice, birds and young deer – and in urban areas, occasionally small pets.
DeBruin said typically, conflicts come about because people have allowed their pets to roam unleashed or unsupervised. “We certainly can’t blame a coyote for behaving in a manner it has done so for generations to guarantee its own survival,” he said.
When potential conflicts do arise, it’s important for people to assert themselves by picking up any small animals, making themselves look big, shouting, or throwing rocks or sticks at the coyote. That will help avoid having coyotes form a problem pattern of behaviour by seeing humans as non-threatening, he said.
For more information go to wildsafebc.com. Conflicts can also be reported directly to the conservation office at 1-877-952-7277.