Texas Coyote Snatches Chihuahua From Backyard in 'Extremely Bold' Attack

A Chihuahua in Texas escaped with her life after fighting off a coyote that snatched her from its backyard in front of her shocked owner.

Zoey Ward, who owns Mimi the Chihuahua, said she was outside when she heard a commotion. She followed the noise and realized Mimi had disappeared. "The coyote took Mimi from a little opening in the fence... it snatched her and I guess took off with her," Ward told McClatchy. "It was extremely bold."

Ward said she saw a coyote before hearing yelping. Moments later she noticed Mimi injured and running back towards the fence she had been taken from. She then rushed Mimi to a veterinarian for treatment.

Coyotes are considered a nuisance animal in Texas and there is increasing potential for encounters between the animals and humans in the state, according to the Texas Department of Fish and Wildlife (TDFW). Expanding urban centers are the primary cause of human-coyote conflicts.

To avoid conflict, the TDFW strongly discourages feeding coyotes. It also says pets should be kept on a leash and garbage cans should be securely fastened. The animals live throughout Texas. As canines coyotes primarily feed on small prey like rabbits, rodents and lizards, even eating fruit and vegetables on occasion.

Images posted by Ward to Facebook on February 13 showed Mimi with bite puncture wounds on her side. In a later Facebook post, Ward said Mimi had lost a lot of blood in the attack but had responded well to treatment from a vet in San Antonio: "Little Mimi is a fighter, she got snatched by a coyote from under my fence at the house. She somehow escaped! Vet said they are just puncture wounds and her X-rays came back good! Apparently she is a biter!"

A 2017 study published in the Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care examining coyote attacks on domestic dogs in Southern California found that 86 percent of dogs attacked by coyotes weighed less than 22 pounds.

The study looked at coyote attacks on dogs in the region between 1997 and 2012. It found that 15.6 percent of attacks were fatal, and that the number of attacks increased 330 percent over the study period.

Ward said her neighbors had since mended the gap where the coyote had got in and snatched Mimi.

"Take precautions," she said. "Even if it's a small gap, even if you know your dog is not going to escape, try to fill it as soon as possible."

Stock image of a coyote
Stock image of a coyote. There is increasing potential for human-coyote interaction in Texas as urban settlements expand into the animals' traditional habitats. jamesvancouver/Getty Images