Woman Punches Coyote in the Face As It Tries to Attack Pet Dog Named 'Roxy'

A woman suffered minor injuries after a close encounter with a wild coyote that tried to attack her friend's small pet dog while they were out for a walk.

Jessica Jones, 21, visiting from the U.K., said she was forced to punch the coyote in the face after it pounced toward the mini goldendoodle, named Roxy, outside a home in Reading, Massachusetts on Monday. Officers were dispatched to a home on Avalon Drive at roughly 3:40 p.m.

"I just shoved my arm in front of the dog, punched the coyote in the face and grabbed the dog and ran off," Jones, who was left with several lacerations to her arm, told WCVB.

Jones said the coyote had approached from behind and tried to attack the dog as they were in the backyard of a home lived in by her friend Grace Tully, 22. Roxy raised the alarm by barking. The dog was not injured in the attack, but Jones needed several rabies shots.

The attacking animal fled into a wooded area after the incident. "We've had coyotes sort of in and around the yard, but nothing ever close to this," Tully, the dog's owner, told WCVB this week. "I've never heard of one coming so close to a home or so close to a human.

"I told my family that Jess was pretty cool and that they would enjoy having her come to stay but, I don't think any of us could have possibly expected how grateful we would end up being."

Jones missed her flight back to London on Monday but planned to travel back Tuesday.

Reading Police Department Chief David Clark confirmed the woman was left with scratches to her arms during the encounter but he said the injuries were not believed to be serious.

Police said the woman and dog may have stumbled across a previously unknown coyote's den in an overgrown area near the friend's backyard.

"Our investigation indicates that this coyote was acting in defense of itself and its pups, and so we do not believe there is any threat to the public," Clark said. "We encourage residents to exercise caution if they're walking in the area but emphasize that we don't believe there is any cause for concern."

The Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game says coyotes view cats and small dogs as food but notes the species is "typically shy and elusive." To avoid encounters with the opportunistic feeders, it says people should secure garbage, feed pets indoors and close off crawl spaces.

It says: "The presence of a coyote alone is not cause for concern, as coyotes are naturally afraid of people. Help keep coyotes wild by scaring or threatening coyotes in your yard with loud noises, bright lights, or water sprayed from a hose. Coyotes that have become dependent on human-associated food can become habituated and exhibit bold behavior toward people."

A coyote stands in the animal park of Sainte-Croix on November 22, 2018, in Rhodes, eastern France. A woman fought off a coyote in Massachusetts this week after it attacked her friend's dog. JEAN-CHRISTOPHE VERHAEGEN/AFP/Getty