Cibolo woman warns other pet owners after chihuahua attacked by coyote in her backyard

Cibolo Animal Control says coyote was likely defending territory during mating season

CIBOLO, Texas – A Cibolo woman is warning other pet owners after a coyote attacked her pet chihuahua in her backyard.

Zoey Ward said she was outside with her dogs on Sunday morning when her dog was dragged from under the fence.

“I was outside on the patio reading a book and drinking coffee ‘cause it was a nice day,” Ward said.

Her two dogs — Mimi, a chihuahua, and Joey, a beagle — were also enjoying the day and were exploring behind a shed in the yard.

“Then, I heard loud yelps (and) Mimi was gone,” Ward said.

She looked over her fence and saw a coyote in the green belt behind her home, but there was no sign of Mimi.

At the same time, her neighbor yelled to check on them, saying they’d seen the coyote from their upstairs window.

The neighbor recorded video of the coyote shortly before the attack. You can watch it in the video player at the top of this article.

“I thought Mimi was gone,” Ward said.

Mimi survived the attack. She made it back inside the yard but was bleeding.

“I’m honestly not sure how she got away,” Ward said. “Maybe she bit it, or maybe the commotion scared the coyote, and he dropped her.”

Ward took Mimi to an emergency pet clinic, where they treated her for puncture wounds and checked for internal damage.

A dog was attacked by a coyote in a backyard in Cibolo. (Zoey Ward)

Mimi will be OK, but Ward wants other pet owners to be aware.

“It was honestly a super scary event. It could’ve been a lot worse than it was. Mimi is only about 12 pounds,” Ward said.

Cibolo Animal Services Manager Charles Gibson said coyotes generally aren’t cannibals, so it probably wasn’t trying to eat the dog but was more likely defending its territory.

Texas Parks and Wildlife says coyotes primarily feed on rabbits, rodents and insects, but they also eat carrion, lizards, snakes, fruits, vegetable matter and even fish.

Coyotes breed from mid-January to early March, and they can be extra territorial during mating season.

Dogs tend to mark their territory along fence lines, and if the other side of that fence is an open field, green belt or drainage ditch, those are “superhighways” for wildlife, which can create a bit of a turf war, Gibson said.

Gibson advised people who live along green belts not to leave pets outside unattended, especially a female who isn’t spayed. He also recommended that people clear their backyards of debris and make sure fences are in good condition, without gaps in the boards or holes underneath.

“We have to learn how to live with them,” Gibson said.

The coyotes aren’t going anywhere, and it’s nearly impossible to trap them because they have a very strong sense of smell.

“Plus, you run the risk of catching the alpha,” Gibson said.

The alphas keep their packs in check and are the only ones allowed to breed. If you catch an alpha, the pack will split and become two packs, each with breeding alphas.

The coyotes also can’t be relocated outside of the county because of rabies control measures.

“The rabies virus can mutate and become more infectious,” Gibson said.

Coyotes, skunks, bats, raccoons and foxes are most at-risk for carrying rabies in Texas. Gibson said if a person or pet is ever bitten or exposed to any of those animals, it should be reported to animal services.

It’s Texas law that ferrets, felines and canine pets must be vaccinated against rabies.

Texas Wildlife Services does provide nuisance coyote control in some urban areas. Residents can call the Texas Wildlife Services office in San Antonio at (210) 472-5451 to get the local office number nearest them.

Ward said they’ve already made some changes to keep their dogs safe.

“We are already taking more precautions and looking into getting her a coyote vest. And we’ve filled in the fence areas,” she said.

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About the Author:

Julie Moreno has worked in local television news for more than 20 years. She came to KSAT as a news producer in 2000. After producing thousands of newscasts, she transitioned to the digital team in 2015. She writes on a wide variety of topics from breaking news to trending stories and manages KSAT’s daily digital content strategy.