Coyote attacks, severely injures 80-pound dog in Portsmouth

Owner warns residents to take caution following incident Tuesday night

By Jim McGaw
Posted 1/22/20

PORTSMOUTH — A Windstone Drive resident, whose 80-pound Labrador retriever was brutally mauled by a coyote Tuesday night, is warning others to take extra precautions to keep their pets …

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Coyote attacks, severely injures 80-pound dog in Portsmouth

Owner warns residents to take caution following incident Tuesday night

Posted

PORTSMOUTH — A Windstone Drive resident, whose 80-pound Labrador retriever was brutally mauled by a coyote Tuesday night, is warning others to take extra precautions to keep their pets — and toddlers — safe.

Kathy Updegrove said she and her husband let their 13-year-old dog, Jake, outside to do his business at about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. The couple has an Invisible Fence in their yard on Windstone, which is located off McCorrie Lane on the east side of town.

“When we put him out, he just goes around the side and comes back in,” she said.

This time, however, something went very wrong.

“We had just finished dinner and I was walking back to the study and I heard all these screams,” Ms Updegrove said.

They opened the slider and went onto the deck, and then her husband “went to get a weapon of some sort — like a baseball bat.” Then, she saw a large, black coyote on top of Jake.

“That coyote had Jake pinned down and his face looked like the same size as Jake’s,” she said. “I screamed, and when I screamed, that coyote made eye contact with me and then he let go.”

Jake was bleeding, but the couple couldn’t determine the severity of his injuries because of his thick fur, Ms. Updegrove said. They wrapped towels around him and rushed him to Ocean State Veterinary Specialists in East Greenwich, which offers 24/7 emergency care. Along the way, Ms. Updegrove called Portsmouth Police to report the incident.

When they arrived at Ocean State, the seriousness of the attack quickly became apparent.

“He had 12 to 14 puncture wounds in his neck, thighs and buttocks, and the inner side of his leg. One of the bites went into the back of his ear to the throat,” Ms. Updegrove said of Jake, whom the couple adopted from a rescue league 12 years ago after he had been surrendered by his owner.

As of Wednesday morning, Jake was still being cared for in East Greenwich. 

“This morning, the vet said we will be upset when we see him. That coyote had him around the neck,” she said. “He’s a big boy. The vet said him being heavy — fat — is what saved his life. She said if it had been a smaller dog, it would have been killed.”

The vet told her it’s coyote mating season, when the animals are often more aggressive. “They also told me this coyote is coming back tonight. They said they’re very territorial,” she said. “We also heard coyotes are mating with wolves, and they’re much larger.”

She wanted to get the word out to other Portsmouth residents so they can take precautions.

“Given that Jake is an 80-pounder, we worry about toddlers, too. They’re like 20 pounds,” Ms. Updegrove said, noting that she’s heard from neighbors that coyotes can scale most residential fences.

Just Monday, a coyote in Exeter, N.H. reportedly attacked a vehicle, bit a 62-year-old woman and her dogs on her porch and then attacked a family walking on a trail — all within an hour. The coyote was strangled by an adult male after it had gone after his toddler, according to media reports.

Police warning 

In June 2019, Animal Control Officer Elizabeth Futoma urged residents to stay with their pets after two dogs were killed in separate coyote attacks in town. One involved a small dog, while the other victim was a “medium-sized or larger dog,” she said. 

It wasn’t clear whether a single coyote or a group of them were responsible for the attacks, which took place in the Prospect Farm Road area.

Coyotes often frequent residential neighborhoods when they find a steady food supply. To thwart this behavior, the town enacted an ordinance in February 2013 forbidding residents from feeding wildlife or leaving food outside that could attract coyotes or other animals. 

If you see a coyote in your yard, Officer Futoma has recommended “hazing them” by banging pots together, shaking a can full of rocks or coins, blasting a boat horn, or making other loud noises.

Officer Futoma did not return a phone message from The Portsmouth Times before deadline Wednesday morning. 

If you need more information about coyotes, visit www.dem.ri.gov or the Narragansett Bay Coyote Study’s website.

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