Note: We first published this information in November of 2015. As we continue to see more coyote attack victims in our emergency room, it is more important than ever to share this information.
In the past month, Veterinary Specialty Center (VSC) has seen four dogs through our emergency department for treatment after being attacked by coyotes. Although we are in an urban area, coyotes are very common. What can you do to keep your pet safe from a coyote attack?
According to VSC’s Critical Care Specialist, Dr. Jennifer Herring, here are some tips for protecting your pet from coyotes.
- Don’t let your pet run loose – Many coyote attacks happen when a pet is unattended in their yard or running loose in a forest preserve or other outdoor locations. Keep your pet on a short leash (10 feet or less) to protect your pet and to keep the situation under control.
- Don’t let your pet out alone after dark – Urban coyotes are nocturnal creatures. If your pet must go out at night, make sure that they are always attended and leashed. Make sure you have a flashlight when walking with your dog.
- Make sure your yard is safe – If you have an invisible fence, your pet is not safe because it keeps your pet in and lets other predators into the yard. Since coyotes have been known to scale 6-foot fences, you should stay with your dog even if you have a fence.
- Exhibit caution if you see a coyote – If a coyote approaches you, make noise, wave your arms and/or throw something to scare it away. Do not turn your back or run from a coyote.
- Make sure no one in your neighborhood is attracting coyotes– Leaving food outdoors for human or pet consumption can attract coyotes to your area.
According to Allison Frederick, an Environmental Communications Specialist with the Lake County Forest Preserve, coyotes view dogs as competition for territory, food, and mates. Because they protect their territory just like a dog will protect a yard, coyotes will chase a dog or other animals off, or attack an animal if it won’t be chased away from its territory. This can also happen when dogs are walked off‐leash in natural areas. Lake County has a Frequently Asked Questions sheet there is also additional information on their website.
If you do have a run-in with an aggressive coyote and your pet is injured, seek veterinary help immediately. Also, contact your local animal control or police department. If you would like more information about coyotes in our area, visit the website for the Coyote Information Council (www.urbancoyoteresearch.com). This organization tracks coyote movement and behavior in Cook County by catching, collaring, and monitoring.
Dr. Jennifer Herring is an Emergency and Critical Care Specialist at Veterinary Specialty Center. Before returning to VSC in 2015 to head up our ECC Department, she had spent two years at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, where she followed her other passion – teaching – and helped the University launch an Emergency and Critical Care Department at their specialty practice. She had been an emergency room veterinarian at VSC prior to returning to the University of Illinois for her residency. Dr. Herring heads our rotating internship program and was instrumental in leading VSC to receive its VetCot Level 1 Trauma Center status.