Small dog expected to survive savage coyote attack

SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) -- A small dog was nearly killed in a San Francisco park earlier this week by a coyote that appeared and snatched up the pet between its jaws.

The dog's owner Bruce Howard says he saw the coyote and 4-5 other coyotes surrounded him and his two dogs in Stern Grove Wednesday morning.

Howard said he didn't think his dog Eddie would make it through alive. Doctors say it was pure luck that the 3-year-old Bichon Frise survived Wednesday's attack.

"The muscles and the ribs on both sides of his chest wall were crushed," said Dr. Kathy Andres, a veterinarian at the Animal Internal Medicine and Special Services clinic in San Francisco's Sunset District.

"Luckily his lungs were bruised not punctured," Dr. Andres said, "He was very limp and almost lifeless."

An x-ray shows how the coyote's jaws broke the dog's ribs. The dog's owner says he regularly visits the dog park at Stern Grove.

"He was just walking along and all of a sudden, the coyote came out of the underbrush and hurt the dog, picked the dog up and was shaking him," Dr. Andres said.

The owner followed the coyote which eventually dropped the pet.

Many dog owners say they've seen coyotes regularly at Stern Grove and other San Francisco parks.

"I know they like to stay on the far side of the lake. All along the lake, there's a lot of dense brush on the hillside," said TJ Young, a San Francisco dog owner who was walking his dog at Stern Grove.

"I've seen coyotes in Glen Park and Bernal Heights Park and McLaren Park," said Dr. Andres, who has several dogs herself.

Dr. Andres says coyotes are usually shy and avoid humans, but they are more assertive at this time of year.

"Their breeding time is spring to summer and they have young pups now in the dens and I think as domestic dogs walk by, the coyote moms will see that as a threat and will attack."

"I think there's more and more people in San Francisco. We're using the parks more and more, there's more dogs, and so I think there's more contact between coyotes and humans. There's less and less places for the coyotes to go."

The doctor says people should keep their dogs on a leash and on paths to cut down on the risk of pets running into coyote dens hidden in the brush.

The medical costs for Eddie are estimated to cost $15,000 to $20,000. A fellow dog-walker created a Gofundme page for Eddie's owners.

Doctors say Eddie is expected to make a full recovery.