January 6, 2013

Coyote drags sweater-wearing, unleashed dog from trail, suggesting a leash would have kept it alive

After hiking with unleashed dogs for a few years, it became apparent over time that, despite the minor hassle of holding a leash and keeping a dog from either hugging my legs or dragging me down the trail, a leash was probably the appropriate course to take. Two incidents finally steered me toward this conclusion. One was when my dog ran off into the forest after smelling a deer in eastern Oregon’s Elkhorn Mountains. The other was when the same dog ran up to oncoming hikers and jumped on them playfully but in a way some hikers could perceive as menacingly.

A recent incident out of Utah suggests that keeping your dog on a leash might save its life.

A woman and her Jack Russell Terrier, Scout, had just reached the summit of Ensign Peak when a coyote snatched the dog and ran off with the unsuspecting pooch. Apparently, Scout was hiking about 20 yards in front of her owner when the woman saw a critter she assumes was a coyote grab the dog.

English: Photo of a Jack Russell Terrier
A Jack Russel Terrior

“All of a sudden I heard her screaming, and I look up, and an animal was dragging her off," she said. "I started screaming and yelling and chasing it as fast as I could."
After going home to get a gun and other supplies, she took her husband back up to the spot to look for the dog. They spent about five to six hours looking for their pet before spotting traces of blood in the snow.

"I started digging in the snow and I saw my dog's little sweater, and I called my husband, and I had to leave, and he took care of it. He got her sweater," the woman said in tears.
Now she believes others should take precautions if they plan on using the popular hiking trail. Actually, those precautions should probably be taken when hiking any trail. The likelihood of an animal attacking a dog while on a leash is much less than if the dog is running freely. It just so happens that in this case, the Ensign Peak area is an on-leash area, a rule the woman disregarded. If she would have heeded the rule, little Scout would surely be alive today.

Ensign Peak
Ensign Peak (Photo credit: Tony Frates)
She said of coyotes on Ensign Peak, "I knew they were up there, but I didn't think they hunt down dogs with little crocheted sweaters on them."

No matter how much of a dog lover you may be, you’ve got to get at least a chuckle out of that last quote.

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