VALRICO (FOX 13) - A Valrico dog owner said she's devastated after losing her pup to a group of coyotes.
"She'd lick you to death. She wouldn't bite, but she'd lick you to pieces," Jimmie Tucker said. "Gracie was my companion. I've been a widow for five years."
Monday morning, Tucker said that love was shattered.
"I let her out, I turned to get a cup of coffee, I heard her yip," Tucker said.
In just seconds, Gracie, the 1-year-old toy poodle, was overpowered by three coyotes that saw her as prey.
"I yelled naturally and they ran but then they turned around and picked her body up and left with it," Tucker said.
This type of coyote threat is an unfortunate reality for many Floridians. Wildlife officials said they're even more common in urban areas because of an abundance of food sources. So why not start removing the problem?
"Controlling coyote populations is not an effective way to protect your pet. Coyotes reproduce quickly," Fish and Wildlife spokesperson Gary Morse said. "Trapping and relocating a nuisance coyote is only relocating a problem."
And the chances are it may come back. Coyotes are an issue in every state except Hawaii, and they've been in Florida for decades.
"They're here to stay, and learning to live with them is the answer to eliminate the problem," Morse added.