SULLIVAN'S ISLAND, SC (WCSC) - A Sullivan's Island woman's Jack Russel Terrier is recovering after being attacked by coyotes last week.
Margaret Burns said it happened early Thursday morning when she let her dog, Tig, out to use the bathroom.
"I let him out like I normally do, and as soon as he got out, he ran around the front of the house and I heard all of this commotion," Burns said. "Howling and growling, yelping and squealing and then I knew they had him."
Burns said she jumped out of bed and grabbed what she could to try and defend her dog. That included using a flashlight and a baseball bat.
"There were three coyotes and one of them had him by the neck," Burns said. "All I could do was scream, grab a baseball bat and run towards them and scare them. I had a flashlight on my head and the light kind of blinded them."
According to the Town's coyote management plan, Burns actions were part of what's known as hazing. In this case, active hazing which involves personal intervention by both physical presence and action.
Burns said eventually the coyotes ran off after she shined the light in their eyes and threw the bat in their direction.
According to a Sullivan's Island police report, Burns took Tig to a veterinary clinic later that morning. Documents from the clinic state the dog was given a rabies vaccine booster, and two staples on each side of his neck where his wounds were.
"He wasn't himself after that for a few days," Burns said. "He didn't eat or drink any water. He was traumatized."
She added she was always cautious when going outside, even waiting in the car in her driveway until coyotes would leave in the past. But now she has a new outlook on the situation, since she saids she can't shake the images and sounds out of her head.
"It's like post-traumatic stress disorder," she said. "Are they back? It's horrifying, it's like a nightmare."
According to the Department of Natural Resources, mating season for coyotes runs from December to March. Their presence during these months will increase.
Burns said she focused on trying to find a solution to dealing with the growing coyote problem on the island.
"I just want us to come together as a community to rectify this problem the best way we can," she said. "We can protect ourselves, but can we do something with wildlife management?"
The Town's policy on coyotes mirrors DNR's policy of trying to "coexist", according to Administrator Andy Benke.
Benke added DNR continues to study and gain insight into coyote behaviors. The Town also urges residents to make reports of human-coyote interactions.
On Feb. 22 at 5:30 p.m. the city of Isle of Palms, Sullivan's Island and Dewees Island POA will host a coyote information exposition, Benke said. The expo at the Isle of Palms Recreation Center will provide residents with information about coyotes and address the issues they're dealing with. In addition to officials from each municipality, DNR officials and a number of different trappers will also be present.
If you live on Sullivan's Island, or any coastal areas where these coyotes may roam, here are some tips for protecting your pets:
- Keep them on a leash near and around the beach, especially at dusk and dawn when coyotes are hunting for prey.
- Keep trash secured in cans and avoid feeding your dogs outside because the food attracts coyotes.