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Authorities search for coyote that killed dog in Laguna Woods

July 27, 2011 |  8:56 am

Pooh the Yorkie was attacked and killed by a coyote in Laguna Woods on Tuesday. This post has been corrected. See note at the bottom for details.

Laguna Beach police are stepping up their efforts to deal with a coyote problem in Laguna Woods after a dog was killed and its owner injured Tuesday in the neighborhood's most recent attack by a coyote.

Coyotes have roamed the neighborhood in recent months, killing cats and dogs. In May, a woman was bitten on the hand as she tried to save her dog in the 700 block of Avenida Majorca. And on Tuesday, 64-year-old Karen Sherif was cut and bruised as she was knocked over when a coyote went after her Yorkshire terrier.

Authorities have set traps for the wild animals in recent months and distributed fliers around the neighborhood warning residents to secure trash cans, avoid leaving food out on their porches and keep their pets inside at night. After Tuesday's incident, Lt. Jason Kravetz of the Laguna Beach Police Department said authorities are asking neighboring areas for additional help in combating the coyote problem. They're also looking for the coyote behind Tuesday's 10 a.m. attack.

That's when Sherif was walking her 12-year-old Yorkie, Pooh, on their usual route near her home in Laguna Woods. Pooh, a slow mover, stopped to smell a bench on Via Alhambra, and Sherif walked a few steps ahead. All of the sudden, she heard a yelp and turned around to find a coyote with her dog in its mouth.

"I just started screaming at the top of my lungs," Sherif said.

The coyote took off, dragging Sherif into the road by Pooh's leash. Sherif let go of the leash as she fell, and neighbors rushed out of their homes to help. One called the police and another ran after the coyote.

But it was too late. Pooh's body was found about 100 feet away, her neck broken.

Neighbors said the coyote continued to linger, though it eventually left. Paramedics treated Sherif for cuts and scrapes.

"It was so quick -- so terribly quick," Sherif said. "The coyote was 5 to 7 feet away from me when I turned around and saw [Pooh] in its mouth. I couldn't have hit it with a stick -- it was too late."

Sherif and her neighbors have taken extra precautions to avoid encounters with the coyotes –- some carrying large sticks or golf clubs when walking their dogs to ward off the wild animals.

Still, Sherif said it seems as though the coyotes are becoming more bold. She's seen them walk down the middle of the street in the early evening, and they've been known to jump the 5-foot walls surrounding the neighborhood's patios to snatch an animal.

Kravetz said any resident who comes across a coyote should raise their arms and yell to scare it off.

[For the record, 11:12 a.m., July 27: The headline on an earlier version of this post incorrectly said the attacks took place in Laguna Beach.]


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Photo: Pooh the Yorkie was attacked and killed by a coyote in Laguna Woods on Tuesday. Credit: Karen Sherif