BRADENTON (FOX 13) - Like any pet parent, Kristie Young's four-legged children are her pride and joy. She showed FOX 13 News photos of her dogs, Oro, Coco, Rocky, and Gator snuggled together on the couch.
But this past Sunday, those sweet moments were replaced with heartache.
"As soon as we opened the living room door there was blood on the furniture, onto the dogs' bed. There was a huge pile of blood," Young recalled.
She and her husband had gone out. When they got home they found Oro badly injured and surrounded by a pool of blood inside their home.
Outside was even worse.
"We came running outside and we found the three other little ones in other spots in the backyard," she said.
Puncture wounds covered Coco, Rocky, and Gator. All four dogs were dead. They believe Oro, clinging to life, made his way into the home through their doggy door.
"I've never seen that amount of blood before and experienced anything like that before. It was just devastating. We lost it," said Krisite.
After talking with neighbors and wildlife groups, Kristie believes there's one culprit.
"Coyotes. The puncture wounds were right around the dogs' necks," she said.
Neighbors have reported seeing coyotes in and around their neighborhood. Officers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said two similar attacks were reported within the area.
Residents believe construction about two miles away is forcing coyotes out of their habitat and into other areas.
"The construction, they are tearing up their habitat where they are used to being. There are claw marks on the other side of our neighbor's fence like they climbed the fence," said Kristie.
The family's four dogs are now buried in the same yard they loved to play in. She hopes their story can help another family avoid tragedy.
"What we have seen is really in our head and it's something we are never going to forget," said Kristie.
FWC said residents can report coyote incidents or unusual coyote behavior by calling its regional office at 863-648-3200 or the FWC Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC.
Information about coyotes and pet safety can be found at http://www.myfwc.com/coyote.
The FWC has provided these tips for residents in the area:
- Coyotes can and do prey on domestic cats and small dogs. Most coyote attacks on pets occur either at night or in the early evening or morning hours (dusk and dawn). To protect your pets, do not allow them to roam freely.
- Keep cats indoors. Free-roaming cats are at a high risk of being preyed on by coyotes.
- Walk small dogs on a short leash, especially at night, dusk or dawn. Be extra careful if you are going to walk your pet in wooded areas or areas that have heavy foliage, where coyotes could hide.
- If pets are kept in a fenced yard, be sure the fence is high enough (about 6 feet) to prevent coyotes from jumping over it and check the bottom of the fence regularly to ensure there are no holes where coyotes can get underneath.
- Remove other attractants from around your home, such as pet food and unsecured garbage left outside. Problems with coyotes can be significantly reduced if residents remove attractants and secure trash.