An English Setter is fine after being attacked by a coyote last Saturday morning on a trail in the Upper Tantallon and Lewis Lake communities in the Halifax Regional Municipality, according to its owner.
“He was preparing to break his neck if he could, I’m sure,” said Brian Hobrecker, owner of Cooper the dog. “I think a small dog perhaps would have been killed by this attack.”
The two were walking on St. Margaret’s Bay Trail Saturday morning when the attack happened.
Cooper, not leashed at the time, was several dozen metres ahead of Hobrecker and out of sight at a bend in the trail.
“He came behind the dog and grabbed him with his mouth up through here,” said Hobrecker, pointing to the collar on Cooper, 7. “The coyote was lying in wait for him for sure.”
The coyote appeared to have gotten its teeth stuck on the collar, preventing it from injuring the dog, he added.
Hobrecker, who lives in the head of St. Margaret’s Bay, said he grabbed a nearby stick to hit the coyote — it quickly broke — before kicking the male coyote between the legs.
He also tried to make himself appear as big as possible and raised his voice: “I think I was actually swearing at him,” he said.
Butch Galvez, a wildlife technician in the area for the Department of Natural Resources, said there have been two reported attacks on dogs in the Halifax West district over the past five years; both resulted in no injuries.
“It’s not a frequent occurrence,” he said, adding that he hopes this incident raises awareness that this can happen to dogs and end much worse.
Galvez says if you’re walking a dog and you come across a coyote, back away slowly, pick up the dog if possible, and make noise.
“Most times when a coyote is aware of a human presence, they’re going to run away,” said Galvez.
If a coyote does attack, he said people should be cautious not to get bitten themselves; throwing a stick or other object to scare off the coyote would be a good call.
“Keeping the dog on leash and under control are the two big keys,” said Galvez.
Hobrecker said despite the potential danger, Cooper probably thought the coyote was playing with him. Still, the experience is spurring change.
He said among other precautions, “I’ll be keeping a much closer eye, and I won’t let him go quite as far ahead. You know 25, 30 feet is enough.”