July 24, 2014 7:10 pm
Updated: July 24, 2014 7:57 pm

Coyotes attack dog in southwest Edmonton; family warning pet owners

Watch above: An Edmonton family is warning others to keep a close eye on their pets after their dog was attacked. Eric Szeto explains.

EDMONTON – The Farthings have a warning for other Edmonton pet owners after a traumatizing incident unfolded before their eyes earlier this week.

Renet Farthing’s husband had just set out to walk their Rhodesian Ridgeback offleash in Riverbend Tuesday evening when a pack of coyotes appeared.

“About five, six coyotes came after the dog. She obviously took off, everything happened so fast,” said Farthing, who was in the front yard at the time.

“They weren’t scared, they were aggressive…they were very aggressive. They had a mission in mind and they knew what they wanted to do.”

The dog eventually managed to escape, but not before the coyotes wounded both of her legs, which are now covered in more than a dozen stitches.

Some of Portia’s stiches on one of her legs. There was a tube put into her leg that drains fluid and blood so she doesn’t get an infection.

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Farthing says she’s just grateful that her dog is still with the family, and that there weren’t any young children around. She adds that the coyotes regularly roam up and down the streets in the neighbourhood.

Earlier this year, there was another coyote attack at a nearby dog park.

READ MORE: Woman’s dog attacked by coyotes while walking in southwest Edmonton

Farthing would like to see the coyote population culled. But experts argue against that.

“Many studies have shown that when you try to cull animals like coyotes, wolves, cougars, bears — they’re so responsive to those openings in territories that, actually, the rate of reproduction increases,” explained biology professor Colleen Cassady St. Clair.

She believes a better solution would be training the animals to be more afraid of humans. City of Edmonton park ranger Ramsey Cox agrees.

“One of the most important things to do when you encounter a coyote is to make yourself big, make a lot of noise, make that experience for the coyote a negative one,” he said.

“So throw pebbles, throw stones, throw sticks and make sure that coyote associates people with a negative experience.”

It’s also recommended that you keep your dog on a leash, especially at night.

By some estimates, there are upwards of 400 coyotes in the city, with most dwelling in the Edmonton River Valley. They tend to come out at night or early morning and can travel up to 20 kilometres a day searching for food.

“You could say coyotes are encroaching on people habitat, as well as people encroaching on coyote habitat. And when those two are happening simultaneously, as they tend to do in new developments…then conflict is even more likely,” Cassady St. Clair explained.

READ MORE: Coyote attack prompts warning for pet owners

She says this kind of an attack is rare; and thinks it was likely caused by the coyotes feeling threatened that the dog was in their territory.

For Renet Farthing, that doesn’t bring much comfort.

“It’s hard not be scared.”

With files from Eric Szeto, Global News

© Shaw Media, 2014

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