Coyote attacks dog in Wheaton area backyard
Another small dog is recovering from severe injuries following a coyote attack, the second in a week near Wheaton.
Linda Arigi said she was traveling out of state when she received an urgent call from her housesitter and Wheaton College student Megan Wilt.
Wilt reported that Arigi's 16-pound bichon frisé, Evie, had been attacked in her backyard on Stonebridge Court near Wheaton.
Wilt said she let Evie and Arigi's schnauzer-poodle mix, Pippin, into the backyard surrounded by a 5-foot iron fence about 10:30 p.m. She heard the dogs barking, went to quiet them so they wouldn't bother the neighbors and saw the coyote.
"I thought it was a dog at first, because I've seen coyotes before and usually they look pretty mangy, but this one was big and looked well-fed," Wilt, 20, said. "It didn't really click until I saw Evie in his mouth and I screamed. Then he just looked at me and started trotting away."
In a panic, Wilt said she chased the animal, which let Evie go when it could not fit her through the fence. Pippin was untouched.
After calling 911, Wilt knew Evie needed urgent care and took her to an emergency veterinarian clinic in Lisle. She suffered six puncture wounds to her neck, and two needed drains to prevent abscesses, Wilt said.
The attack came just a week after Sue Reid's dogs, Jake, a silky terrier, and Floyd, a Yorkshire terrier, were surrounded by between four and six coyotes in the backyard of their home on Mahican Drive, near Herrick Lake in the Arrowhead Estates neighborhood just outside Wheaton.
Arigi's house sits just north of Reid's and they are separated by the Illinois Prairie Path.
Like Evie, Jake survived the attack but suffered severe puncture wounds. Floyd went missing and Reid said his remains were found last week. Wheaton police did not immediately reply to calls to confirm their response to the attack at Arigi's home.
Wilt said when she returned from the vet last Thursday, she let Pippin out into Arigi's front yard — supervised — and saw the coyote lingering in the street.
"I was freaked out, I was shaking," Wilt said. "I had to call my mom to have her stay with me."
Arigi said Evie is recovering "miraculously well," but said she was more worried about Megan when she heard the student ran after the coyote.
"She cared about our dogs so much," Arigi said.
During a follow-up visit with Evie to Danada Veterinary Hospital in Wheaton this week, Arigi said the doctor told her coyotes are capable of jumping fences.
"It never occurred to me, and people should be aware of that," she said.
Dan Thompson, ecologist with the DuPage County Forest Preserve District, said coyotes can jump fences, but also are very good at climbing and using other methods to enter yards.
"A 6-foot fence is probably not substantial enough to keep them out," he said. "They can also dig under fences. So if you're not being vigilant about the boundaries, they can get in."
Although coyotes are popularly known as solitary hunters, Thompson said groups like the one that attacked Reid's dogs aren't unusual.
"It is not uncommon, especially this time of year, to have the parents out with the youngsters and teaching them how to do things," he said. "It's nothing more than a family unit."
Reid said she's lived in her home for seven years and had never seen a coyote before the attack. She said she hopes to see a solution to their proliferation, along with public education.
Just two years ago, Wheaton enacted a policy that recommended the hiring of a trapper to track coyotes and to fine anyone who might be feeding the animals. Any Wheaton residents convicted of violating the town's feeding law could be fined $100 to $950 per occurrence.
The city also launched a campaign to educate the public about dealing with coyotes that includes brochures, cable television programs, postcards and signs near parks.
Thompson said pet owners should know coyotes are not just in forest preserves, and they should never leave their pets unattended — especially since coyotes are always trying to expand their range.
"People think they are only in a natural setting, but there are coyotes living their entire lives in suburbia in parks, backyards," Thompson said. "Whether you see them or not, coyotes are in your neighborhood. So you can't leave dogs and cats unattended, because there are predators out there."
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