The quick thinking and loud screams of an 84-year-old Bensenville-area woman has neighbors calling her a hero after she scared off a pack of coyotes attacking a neighbor's dog.
Dolores "Dolly" Jefferson was getting some coffee about 11:30 a.m. Friday in the back room of her house near White Pines Golf Course when she "heard all kinds of commotion" in her backyard and saw her neighbor's dog being attacked by a coyote.
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"I looked out and saw Roxie had been bitten on the snout and the biggest coyote I've ever seen was chasing her around the pool and toward a pack of three more coyotes," Jefferson said. "My son has always told me to scream and yell real loud if I see a coyote and that's what I did. I ran outside screaming as loud as I could and shooed the coyotes away."
Roxie's owner, Rich Parent, who lives immediately behind Jefferson, said he was splitting logs in his backyard and didn't hear the 10-year-old Cirneco dog's cries. But Jefferson's yelling caught his attention.
"She ran out screaming and got within a foot of Roxie and that 100-pound coyote and she chased that coyote out of here," Parent said Tuesday. "Dolly's quite a hero. She saved Roxie's life."
Jefferson, who has a 65-pound "mutt" herself, said she was just doing what any neighbor would have done.
DuPage County Forest Preserve District Ecologist Dan Thompson said very few people are as brave as Jefferson and tend to run inside and hide from coyotes rather than scaring them away.
"As humans, we have something woven into our psyche to be afraid of coyotes, but you have to stand up to them and they're going to back down. We need to do more of this," Thompson said. "We should be telling the coyotes that we're the alpha top dogs here but, instead, we're just handing that role to the coyotes.
"The fact that an 84-year-old woman was able to scare them away and save this dog is proof that it works."
Parent said he bought Jefferson a bullhorn that also makes several alarm sounds for her to use next time she spots the coyotes around her house.
"You better believe I'm going to be using it," she said.
Parent took Roxie to the vet to have her wounds treated and she's going to recover fully. But Parent realizes he has to keep a closer eye on Roxie in the future.
"She always runs between the yards to play with (Jefferson's dog) and she's a bit of a roamer," he said. "So I've got to keep her on her leash and close to me."
Thompson said he often feels like a "broken record" when talking about coyote attacks.
"So many of these altercations can be prevented by simply having your dog on a leash. Or if your dog goes outside, be with your dog," Thompson said. "Your sheer presence will keep coyotes at bay."
Thompson said coyotes attack some animals for food, but many times the attacks are territorial.
"More often than not, smaller breed dogs, with their big Napoleon complex are affected the most. A lot of that has to do with the behavior or attitude of small dogs challenging large dogs all the time. That disposition can be fatal," Thompson said. "If a coyote is going to be challenged by a smaller dog they know they can take out, they're going to do that."