Pet owners, take heed

As we continue to co-exist with urban wildlife, things like this happen. (I found it on a blog search, but the author mentions he’s sent copies to the media, so the tale might be told more widely soon.)

I am very sorry to hear about this family’s loss. I deeply understand grief at the loss of a pet — we’ve been through that. But because this author seems to be urging a search-and-destroy mission against coyotes, out of his pain and grief and fury, it’s worth noting: The vast majority of urban-wildlife-vs.-pet cases involve unattended pets. That’s not a humane way to treat your pet, in any circumstance. Cars are a much bigger threat to them than other animals (no matter how “quiet” you think your neighborhood is) — as other, unfriendly humans can be.

Important to note, this sounds like the rare exception. The author does not describe the specific circumstances except to say that the dog’s owner “witnessed” the coyotes take it.

But again, in hopes of saving OTHER pets’ lives, it’s an appropriate occasion for one of my soapbox issues: The most responsible way to care for a pet is to keep it a house pet. Dogs, you can walk, on leashes. Cats — they do NOT “need” to roam outside. Old myth. (Besides possible danger to them, they also are a danger to what relatively few birds we have left in our neighborhoods.)

I’d love to hear your comments if you disagree with me. I just feel strongly that the solution to urban wildlife-vs-pets isn’t “eradicate the urban wildlife,” it’s “keep your dogs on leashes and keep your cats in the house.” (The blogger who lost his family dog also talks about kids — fwiw, I don’t believe you should leave them unsupervised either.)

3 Replies to "Pet owners, take heed"

  • Rob Stevens June 7, 2006 (11:01 am)

    For the record, it’s not that we’re on a mission to eradicate the coyotes. We’re on a mission to have them controlled. Get them out of an urban neighboorhood. Boofus was in our backyard, which is fenced on three sides, and the fourth has a 15′ embankment, which the coyotes lept off of to take our companion, then scurried back up it again. Boo is normally attended to when she’s outside like that, but it was this one rare occasion that Nana had her attention diverted that ended disasterously. Even if Nana had been standing right there, she couldn’t have done anything … she’s in her 80’s. As it was, she was just feet away when she saw it happen through the window.

    My wife and I are very cautious pet owners (we have a Beagle, so we’re probably overly cautious), but it never would have occurred to us that letting Boo do her business in our own “protected” backyard would have been an issue. Casey (the beagle) is _never_ off his leash unless it’s in our yard. Boo was never put on a leash because we simply carried her anywhere we took her.

    Our real issue is that Animal Control’s response was that unless they harmed a human, they wouldn’t consider it a priority. Why does someone have to be hurt before they’ll do their jobs and “control” these wild animals? It’s not like this happened at our cabin at Crystal Mountain … this was right in Seattle, blocks from the beach!

    So what’s the problem? Obviously, it’s that our continual urban sprawl is pushing predatory animals into our neighborhoods, and that essential services like Animal Control are seemingly oblivious to the matter. While certainly a tragedy for us, in retrospect, it wasn’t entirely an unforeseen event. At the same time, considering how careful our family is with our pets, we couldn’t have expected it.

    I’m rambling a bit, but I just wanted to thank you for helping us tell our story, and I appreciate your call for people to care for their pets appropriately. Rest assured, if there was any indication that this was something that we may have done wrong, we wouldn’t be as “up in arms” as we are.

  • Erin Wenzel July 27, 2006 (9:53 pm)

    I have also contacted the authorities about these animals. They are waiting for your kid or someone else’s to get attacked. Nice, huh?
    These animals belong in the wild. The middle of a city, in a tiny park, which cannot sustain them, is not the wild. They will starve to death if they are not taken back where they belong.
    Since no one would help us, we are helping ourselves. The animals (which pose a threat to children as well as pets, and are a huge disease threat, no matter how careful you are with your pets) are fair game for live traps. (This is according to the Department of Fish and Wildlife which told us it didn’t care a lick that the neighborhood is being eaten clean of our beloved pets–you don’t seem to have any). Anyhow, we are now getting ready to get rid of them ourselves. If anyone else wants a safe neighborhood where they can walk in the park without fear, where their cats can enjoy a sunny day, and where Alki Elementary is not at risk for becoming brunch, e-mail

  • Erin Wenzel July 28, 2006 (7:35 pm)

    By the way, my cats had bells on their collars to prevent them getting any birds. Also, what are you going to say when someone has their dog on a leash…and the coyotes try to grab it anyway? Or when they grab a kid?
    I eagerly look forward to reading your blog after either of those incidents occur. Perhaps you will have some pearls of wisdom for us then as well (perhaps advise that no one leave their homes after dark, or with children in tow, because the coyotes should have free reign of West Seattle).

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