Coyote attacks chihuahua in Rio Rancho backyard
RIO RANCHO, N.M. – A local pet owner is giving a heartfelt warning after a coyote attacked her chihuahua last month in her backyard.
“They said we were really fortunate. That this is not the first coyote attack they’ve seen recently, and he was lucky there was enough intervention,” said Sara Heffern, a Rio Rancho resident.
New Mexico Game and Fish reps say it is coyote mating season, and the winter weather is making coyotes hunt harder for food.
But Heffern’s good boy, Pierre, was in the fight for his life weeks ago when a coyote hopped her fence in Rio Rancho, and tried to make Pierre a meal.
“I thought he was gone. The screams I heard come out of him, I wouldn’t wish it on any pet owner ever,” said Heffern.
Heffern says, thankfully, a man and his two dogs were walking by and scared the coyote away.
“He said he saw a coyote in my yard, and he thought it killed my dog. So I ran screaming into my house because this is my grumpy dog, this is my little fighter,” said Heffern.
Photos of Pierre’s injuries show the bloody aftermath. Heffern rushed him to the vet.
“They said we were really fortunate, that this is not the first coyote attack they’ve seen recently,” Heffern said.
Darren Vaughan, a spokesperson for New Mexico Game and Fish, says right now coyotes know no boundaries.
“This is kind of the peak of breeding season right here in the winter months, January, February. So if they haven’t already found a mate they’re currently in search of one, so they’ll look long and hard for that,” said Vaughan.
People on social media are noticing. More than a thousand people have watched a video of a man and two dogs being followed by a coyote.
“There does get to be a little bit of desperation out there, so they are a little bit more likely to attack small pets and things like that just for predatory reasons,” Vaughan said.
Others on social media haven’t been as lucky as Heffern and Pierre. A neighbor says she found her cat dead in the driveway.
That’s why Heffern wants people to remember Pierre’s story.
“It does not matter what area of the city you’re in, keep an eye on them. Go outside with them. I know it’s a pain to have to do it, but you’re saving their life,” said Heffern.
Reps from Game and Fish say you can protect your small pets by going outside with them. Always use a leash during a walk, and don’t leave food out that could attract coyotes.
Also, if you are approached or followed by a coyote, make loud noises and try to make yourself appear bigger to scare them away.