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Dog dies after attack blamed on coyote

Neighbors had been seeing animals in area

Aug. 11, 2010

Fox Point — A suspected coyote attack has left a dog dead and his owners concerned for the safety of pets and people in their neighborhood.

"He was very spry and active," Felice Leib said of 11-year-old Romeo, a bichon frise. "He loved running around outside."

The lapdog-size Romeo was outside his family's home on Bywater Lane around 11:30 p.m. Saturday, Leib said. The dog was inside an invisible electric fence in the yard with the outside lights on.

Leib kept waiting for Romeo to come back inside, calling his name a few times.

"He's always running back and forth in the yard," Leib said. "But after a few times, I started to get worried."

Leib's husband found Romeo on his back, severely injured, as a dark shape left the yard.

"It was pretty gruesome," Leib said.

The Leibs called Fox Point police after neighbors brought over some blankets for the dog. But it was too late for Romeo.

Rare attack

While there is a population of coyotes around the suburbs, they mostly feed on small mice or rats, not dogs.

An attack like this is pretty unusual, said Dale Katsma, a wildlife biologist with the state Department of Natural Resources.

"If coyotes attack, it happens more during the mating season where they are more territorial," Katsma said. "Even then it's still pretty rare."

Fox Point Police Chief Tom Czaja agreed.

"I can't remember another domestic attack in the area," Czaja said. "It's the first in a long time."

An animal attack like this usually means that the animal is protecting a food source, Czaja said, remembering information the DNR has given the community in the past.

He warns residents not to feed their pets outside.

"If a coyote finds food near your house, it will become territorial and protect that food," Czaja said.

Police could not confirm the attack was a coyote because there were no witnesses.

Concerned for pets

The attack has left Leib concerned for her neighbors and their pets.

Neighbors have reported seeing a pack of two or three coyotes in the neighborhood in the past months, Leib said. One neighbor recently spotted a coyote in a yard during the daytime.

"The coyotes have been getting bolder," she said.

Leib said she is unsure whether she'll get another dog.

"How do I ensure that my dog and my neighbors' dogs are safe?" she wondered.

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