An 80-year-old Rye, New York woman is mourning the death of her beloved miniature poodle, Cleopatra.
Judith Steers, who lives at the Osborn Retirement Community, let Cleopatra outside on a long leash on Wednesday night. When Steers heard an anguished cry, she ran outside, but it was too late. A coyote had gotten to her.
"When officers arrived, they did see a coyote circling the area," said Rye Police Commissioner William Connors. "And there were puncture wounds to the side of the neck and the top of the head, that were consistent with an animal byte."
"Cleo was her pet for 10 years and they were extraordinarily close," said Jane Fox, director of marketing for the Osborn Retirement Community. "Wherever Mrs. Steers went, Cleo followed. In fact they were rarely not at each others side. They really had a great friendship."
A few days before the attack, Steers noticed Cleopatra had a wound on her neck. She brought her to the vet but couldn't figure out how she was wounded. In hindsight, she now believes that it was the work of the coyote.
Neighbors who live near the retirement home say coyote sightings have become all too common especially near the preserve where they believe the coyotes live.
Bill Ruiz, who lives right on a golf course, says his sheltie, Sasha, had a near incident with a coyote a few weeks ago.
"My wife was walking Sasha at night on the golf course," said Ruiz. "And a coyote was following her. She got so frightened she left the dog out on the course and I had to go out and get her. I found her but didn't see the coyote at first, until I got to the door of my house, I turned around and saw the coyote staring at us from the street."
Sasha was not injured, fortunately Ruiz says, because the coyote was larger than a german shephard.
Experts say coyotes usually eat birds and rodents and are very territorial and will travel long distances for food. And they have been popping up in the most unlikely places, like Tribeca, where a coyote was sighted and captured.
Experts say the best way to avoid a coyote encounter is to keep your pets leashed and by your side while walking them at night. Also, food sources like pet food or bird seed can attract rodents which will in turn attract coyotes, so it is best to get rid of them. And if you happen to see one, be aggressive. Loud noises will normally scare the animal away.
Coyote sightings should be reported to your local police station, so their presence can be documented.