Guard your dog around coyotes, Coquitlam man warns

Hold on to your pets, says Danny Pinilla, after the Coquitlam resident lost one of his two dogs to a coyote. - DIANE STRANDBERG/THE TRI-CITY NEWS
Hold on to your pets, says Danny Pinilla, after the Coquitlam resident lost one of his two dogs to a coyote.

A Coquitlam dog owner lost one of his pets to a coyote last weekend and is warning others to keep their pooches on leash to avoid the same fate.

Danny Pinilla would also like to see a sign posted at Glen Park, where his chihuahua-pomeranian cross was killed and eaten to warn others about an animal he believes is living in the forest adjacent to the park.

"I just want people to know so they take more care," Pinilla said as he walked through the park this week with his other dog, Paco, in tow.

The Coquitlam granite countertop fabricator said he was out for an early-morning dog walk last Sunday with his two pets, Lina and Paco. The dogs jumped out of the car and were running toward the nearby off-leash dog park when the female, Lina, simply disappeared "in a matter of seconds."

He searched the area and when he saw a coyote in the field, he became suspicious, chasing the animal though the Glen elementary school soccer field.

"I realized, that's what happened to my dog," Pinilla said.

But without confirmation, and fearful of bringing his wife the bad news, he returned with some posters seeking information and offering a reward for his pet.

A thorough search of the forest near Pipeline Road revealed the bad news and it was his other dog, Paco, that alerted him to sign: a pile of fecal matter with his dog's hair, bones and the remains of a paw clearly in evidence.

He felt terrible and "in my young life, I've seen a lot," Pinilla said, "But my wife is heartbroken, she got the dog as a gift."

Spurred to action, Pinilla called the BC Conservation Officer Service but was told coyotes are only destroyed if they are a danger to humans. At the very least, he would like to see a sign warning the public that a coyote is in the area.

But the city's urban wildlife coordinator says posting signs would be impractical because coyotes are everywhere and it's up to pet owners to be cautious. Cats should be kept indoors, said Drake Stephens, who also warned, "Don't let your dog out of your sight."

Coyotes typically eat rodents and squirrels, making them beneficial for urban environments, but Stephens says they will eat small, even medium-sized, dogs if an opportunity presents itself.

Humans shouldn't feed them, either, or they become habituated, as is the case a few years ago when two people got bit by a coyote on Burke Mountain.

"I would post signs if there's a coyote approaching people," Stephens said. "At the same time, conservation officers don't usually come out if it's a case of a coyote being a coyote. If it's approaching people that's a different story."

If a coyote shows up in someone's yard, he recommends scaring them away by being noisy and aggressive so they don't become used to people. "They're becoming bolder because we are too tolerant of them," and culling them just encourages them to give birth to more pups, said Stephens, who lost one of his own dogs to a coyote several years ago, causing him to be more cautious and aware of the animals.


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