Animals

A coyote attacked a woman’s dog in San Francisco

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This was the regular evening routine for Lindsay Brzebel and her 13-year-old terrier Roscoe.

Brzebel, 39, who works as a waiter in downtown San Francisco, just wrapped up her night shift Tuesday, returning to her boarding house near Fifth and Clement intersection at about 11:30 p.m. They went for a walk, heading towards 10th and California where her boyfriend, Tim Swards, 41, lives.

When they were about half a block away from his house, Brzebel removed Roscoe’s collar.

“Like I did a million times,” she told SFGATE over the phone. “It’s something I will never do again.”


Within 15 seconds, Brzebel continued, “The coyotes came out of the shadows.”

There were four of them in total, and as they began to circle around the Brzebel, Swords and Roscoe, the dog suddenly rushed after one of them.

‘I cried for him to come back,’ said Brzebel, ‘and when I did, he snatched a wolf from his neck and slacked off.’ “It all happened so quickly.”

Without hesitation, Sowards proceeded to run after the animal, and said she could hear Roscoe “cry out his bravery.”

Then there was silence.

“I was just like, ‘This is it. Brzebel said.

Meanwhile, Sowards continued clapping and screaming at the coyote, eventually bringing Roscoe to the curb. Brzebel said the dog was still alive, but the wolf lingered on top of him in a territorial fashion.

That’s when Sowards took his chance. A coyote attacked, picked up Roscoe and ran back toward the house relatively unscathed, save for a few scrapes of cement.

“I was in complete shock,” Brzebel said. “I kept saying, I can’t believe you did that, over and over again. He said there was no other choice. If he hesitated, we might be in a completely different situation right now.”

Brzebel ran upstairs and grabbed a blanket wrapped around Roscoe’s neck as she frantically searched the internet, trying to find a vet that was still open. A friend recommended OakVet, a 24-hour emergency veterinarian in Auckland, so Przybyl called Lyft and headed there ASAP.

“He was sighing all the way,” she said of Roscoe, who had six holes in his neck. His collar, which I found on the street two days after the accident, had been choked in half. “There was a lot of blood. It was a heartbreaking situation – I didn’t know if he would live or die.”

The veterinary team administered antibiotics and painkillers, shaved off some of Roscoe’s fur and used staples to repair a deeper wound in the back of his neck. He also received a rabies shot.

“They kept telling me how rare this was, because coyotes usually don’t come back,” Brzebel said.

By 5:30 the next morning, she was back home with her beloved pet, who had survived.

“I am forever grateful to them and my friend. He is really a hero,” said Brzebel. “I cry just talking about it. … There was a lot of panic and remorse.”

She reported the incident to San Francisco Animal Care & Control, and although Przybyl considers herself lucky, Deb Campbell, a spokesperson for the facility, said there are a few reasons the coyote comes too close to comfort in the city.

She explained that many of the pups born last spring are now scattered, so it is “very common” to encounter groups of coyotes from the same litter traveling together in a pack while searching for new territories. The droppings of seven coyote pups were spotted at the Botanical Gardens in Golden Gate Park last May, and two popular Presidio trails that temporarily banned dogs during “dog season” — which occurs from April through fall — because some coyotes den locations were on the golf course.

Litter of seven wolf pups seen at Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, May 2021.

Litter of seven wolf pups seen at Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, May 2021.

San Francisco Rick and Parks

An ongoing epidemic could be another factor. Animals used to empty city streets, squares, and even rooftops, but as people return to work and traffic increases, Campbell said Animal Care and Control has “picked up more dead coyotes than ever before.”

“Cars hit a lot of them – and this can happen when they break up and go into unfamiliar territory,” she said. “I think we have 24 deaths this year. It’s usually 16 or 17 years old, certainly no more than 20.”

However, Campbell said, the bigger problem was that the population was “befriending and feeding” the wolves, which in turn causes the naturally capricious animals to lose their fear of humans and even hunt for them. (Last August, Animal Care and Control was looking for a woman who was allegedly feeding coyotes meat in Bernal Hill.)

It is widespread and difficult to deal with. “We get daily reports,” Campbell said. “It’s ridiculous – people throw chicken McNuggets out of their car windows and the wolves are waiting for them.”

It is also illegal. Campbell said people caught feeding coyotes could face fines of up to $1,000 or imprisonment. “But it is difficult to catch people red-handed,” she added.

At the same time, there are unintended ways for people to lure coyotes into their yards — by feeding their pets outside and not cleaning up stray bits of food, or fallen seeds from bird feeders. (“These attract birds, rats, and mice, which in turn attract wolves,” Campbell said.) Wolves will also seek out overgrown yards for their dens.

California wolf on the run.

California wolf on the run.

Robin Beck/AFP via Getty Images

Campbell added that wolves do not know how to differentiate between predators – small dogs, cats and squirrels are all alike to them. She explained that if the wolf is already used to associating humans with “free handouts” and encounters someone with a pet, that animal will likely consider that animal its next meal.

“It’s heartbreaking,” she said. “No one wants a pet to be hurt or killed by a wolf.”

If you see a wolf, Campbell recommends “loose it” any way you can: yell at it. Open an umbrella. whistle blow.

And if you’re out with a dog or other pet, she recommends keeping it on a leash and taking something with you that could scare a coyote.

“Be alert. Be careful. And call us if there’s an animal emergency.”

Conifer Lawn in the western part of the San Francisco Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park.

Conifer Lawn in the western part of the San Francisco Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park.

Patricia Chang / SFGATE خاص

Some of these hotspots are located in parts of the city, she said, such as Lake Merced, Stern Grove, Golden Gate Park and Potrero Hill.

Although it is difficult to track each animal individually, Campbell estimates that fewer than 100 coyotes live in San Francisco, where they began building dens in the early 2000s after police officers stopped the practice of killing animals that crossed the Golden Gate Bridge into the city.

“They find what they want here and they are comfortable, which is why we always tell people not to feed them,” she said.

Perzibel agrees, especially after experiencing her close encounter with her.

“They are not dogs. When you see one, it is not an opportunity to take a cute photo on Instagram,” she said. “People should realize that these wolves are not manipulative. The more attention you pay to them, the more comfortable they will feel. These are wild animals, and we have to make them feel afraid of us again.”

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