PLYMOUTH - A local family will have a beloved member home for the holidays after a frightening encounter.
It was a normal morning for Jessica Groves and her husband up at 3 a.m. for work and as they do every day they let the family dog Maggie - a miniature schnauzer - outside. While Maggie normally comes back inside just a few minutes later, this particular morning it was nearly 4 a.m. and when she returned she was terribly injured and bleeding.
An emergency surgery at the vet later, Maggie fortunately was able to return home within several days a survivor of her confrontation with coyotes.
“We’ve lived here over 10 years and we’d hear them around us a lot but this is the first time they’ve ever come on the property,” said Jessica. “We have campfires outdoors and all sorts of other things and this is the first time they’ve been this close. They normally stay in the distance.”
The coyote of Hollywood is a lone howling creature in Westerns. The reality is a little different. The animals are very common to Indiana.
“They are very adaptable animals,” said Shawn Rossler, a biologist with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. “You can find them in all sorts of different habitats even in urban areas. They do really well as long as there is a source of food and water.”
While sightings of the animals are common, confrontation with humans is not.
“Normally you’ll have no interaction. They avoid people,” said Rossler. “The problems you find is if there is a food source, like dog food near a home, or perhaps small mammals or birds they can hunt for food. They are very territorial so any interaction with domesticated animals usually ends up badly.”
Rossler says that while the animals deserve a healthy respect, humans don’t need to fear them.
“Most of the time they aren’t necessarily dangerous,” he said. “If you encounter a coyote you should be bold but not aggressive. Make some noise, yell - something like that. January and February is breeding time so we usually see a spike in contact at that time of year with humans.”
Unfortunately a small dog like Maggie is the type of animal that coyotes will attack. The family is simply glad to have her home.
“She had a lot of muscle damage and it was obvious they had thrown her around,” said Jessica. “We have a couple of skids over by some pine trees on our property I think she was able to hide there until they went away. I have no idea how she got away. We’re glad she did.”