Not Feeling So Good About Coyotes Today

This weekend our family dog, the world's largest Maltese at over 12 pounds but still a small dog, was attacked by a coyote.  They redid the golf course nearby into a links course and ever since we have had an enormous pack of coyotes out there -- the other night I saw a dozen hanging out together.

Yesterday the coyote got into a fenced area and grabbed Snuggles (please no name jokes today) in its jaws and was carrying her off when my daughter saw it and screamed and yelled until it dropped our dog and went away.   If my daughter had had a gun, that coyote would have been blown away -- my daughter was in total mama bear mode.

We took the dog to the emergency animal hospital, and eventually to their surgery center.  Snuggles was put on oxygen and an IV and within a few hours had a surgeon operate on her chest, stitching closed holes in her chest wall on both sides of her body.   So that is how we spent our weekend.

Today she is doing OK, but is still sluggish and won't eat.  We are hoping for the best, and that she will beat the odds (most dogs this size are DOA from coyote attacks).  Here she is with her pink bandages, still in the oxygen tent.


Postscript:  It was interesting to go through the process of getting emergency care in the veterinary world.   At each step of the process we got a detailed cost estimate in advance of the charges we could expect.  We were able to request her medical records at any time, and they were both detailed and impressive.  Every step was documented.  We saw her x-rays and got pictures and video from the surgery to show us exactly what damage had to be repaired and how they did it.  The two locations we have been to (the local hospital and the surgery center) both are part of VCA,  It has not been cheap, but the care has been impressive.

One odd conclusion to this is that there is something to be said for the old-style communal hospital ward vs. the private rooms of today. One of the reasons I feel good that they are keeping an eye on Snuggs (as the men of the household call her to avoid embarassment) is that all the critical animals are essentially in cages and enclosures in the same room, where someone always is there to see immediately if they are in distress.

Update:  Got the bill today for the surgery.  Pretty much exactly what they promised in advance.   Not cheap -- I think I am going to rename this dog Steve Austin

Update #2:  I don't really blame the coyote - nature red in tooth and claw and all that.  Anger at the coyote is just cover for my personal guilt that we did not make things safer for her.  We are making changes right now to give her a safer area to run around and do her business.



  1. Another_Brian:

    While nowhere near as troubling as a coyote attack, we have a large dog who was experiencing a false pregnancy, so we took her in to have her examined. The vet informed us that it was possible she had an infection, there's no way to tell from just looking but he would recommend having her spayed anyway. He related a story about his wife's show dog who was healthy one day and dead the next after such an infection. That being the case, it was treated more as an emergency than a scheduled surgery. The vet moved his schedule around to work the surgery in during his lunch. We received several itemized estimates of the cost of the spay, including what it would be if there were an infection compared with what it would cost without the infection. They called us immediately after the surgery explained the results, told us there was an infection found and they were able to address it and she would be able to come home the next day. It was more expensive than a regular spay surgery, but we worked out a payment plan and everyone lived happily ever after.

    Gave me a whole new appreciation for the way insurance and third-party payer systems distort the costs and incentives for everyone involved. But I expect most people reading this probably already understand that.

  2. Don:

    Glad the dog's ok. Sounds like you need to get permission from the golf course to take up coyote hunting when they're closed for the evening. It's become quite the sport in my neck of the woods, since the coyote population exploded a few years ago.

  3. John O.:

    I too experienced the helpful analysis of the choices and the costs of veterinary care when my cat became sick. My veterinarian was very considerate with the fact I was of low income, going to school, and didn't have the immediate funds. As expensive as pet's veterinary care can be, it was well worth it to know that they made cost consideration just as important as caring for my cat.

  4. aczarnowski:

    Hope Snuggs comes through quickly and like nothing happened!

  5. pegr:

    Coyotes do what coyotes do. We are in their habitat, not the other way around. Still, I'm glad to hear the pup is on the mend.

  6. slocum:

    A modest proposal -- maybe what we need to solve the health care cost crisis is to legalize vet care for humans. Given the huge diversity in animal species vets already have to deal with, adding humans couldn't be that big of an extra challenge. The care would be be better than any human medicine available before, what, say 1970?

  7. Rick C:

    I think Warren's unstated point is that the payment structure for pet animals is different because it didn't follow the same health insurance process evolution, and that examining the pet medicine structure with an eye towards using it as a model in reforming the human one is an avenue worth exploring.

  8. TM:

    Well wishes to the pup. And yes, getting vet care is so much easier and cheaper (as is shopping around) than getting people care. It's amazing how much a direct connection between the consumer and the seller improves the whole business transaction. Of course, the pet insurance scam is coming too. There are already plans out there, and my vet has recently started carrying flyers (I'm sure in exchange for some consideration) of one of the plans. Coincidentally after 5 years of more or less the same prices, a chunk of my vets services have seen a fairly significant price jump. I'm sure it has nothing to do with those services being the same service the insurance "covers".

  9. Dale:

    not forget that Vet’s don’t have to carry the same kind/amount of insurance. We pay a lot for the right to sue, and for
    all the unnecessary tests and other procedures they have to order in case they
    are sued. The same goes for the medicine
    we buy. Don’t you just love those commercials
    offering to help you sue the hell out anybody?

  10. Dale:

    I’m pasting my comments from Microsoft Word and for some
    reason it’s chopping up my sentences.

    And I forgot to say that I truly hope your dog will be ok.

  11. obloodyhell:

    I hope Snuggles is well and getting better. It is always unfortunate to lose a family pet.

    I would say I don't blame the Coyotes directly, but the local wildlife management bunch ought to be doing something. Suppose, instead of snuggles, it was a toddler playing in the back yard?

  12. obloodyhell:

    Except you'll need to get a liberal to propose it. Otherwise, you can see the hue and cry over "The GOP health care plan is to treat us no different from animals!!"

  13. mesaeconoguy:

    We have 2 small children.

    And bobcats in & around our back yard (and rumor of a mountain lion).

    And .38 spl.

    You do the math.

  14. Reed Coray:

    It makes as much sense to "blame" the coyote as it does to "blame" a rattlesnake or a black widow spider when it bites--none. However, just because you don't "blame" the threatening animal, doesn't mean you don't do something about the threat. If you can remove the threat without doing harm to the animal (in this case, the coyote), fine. If you can't, then how can anyone "blame" you if you remove the threat by killing the threatening animal. Since I own a Shih-Tzu and am aware of the threat from coyotes and rattlesnakes, I'm with your daughter--when animals are a threat to your kids or your dog, speed them (the threatening animals) along on their way to animal heaven. Anything else could be labeled as child or animal abuse.

  15. FelineCannonball:

    Snuggles is a fine name. Made Unilever a lot of money. We had an orange Morris the cat.

    Hope she pulls through.

  16. Matthew Slyfield:

    Snuggles is a perfectly fine name for that type of dog.

    However, if you ever name a mastiff or Great Dane Snuggles I will find you and introduce you to my clue stick.

  17. Matthew Slyfield:

    Personally I'd prefer something a bit beefier than a .38 if I ever came face to face with a mountain line that was determined that I was lunch.

  18. marque2:

    Ah Shih-Tzu the massaging dog. Or is that Shai su - oh well never mind.

  19. marque2:

    Bob cats usually don't go after people, even kids, but mountain lions ...

    Though I do recall a Bob cat who killed a jogger in Palo Alto a few years back, jumping out of a tree onto her back.

  20. marque2:

    Good luck with your pet. We had a cat with cancer a few months ago where we had to have the leg amputated. She also had a different cancer along her mammary glands. It was expensive, but we think it was worth it to get a three legged cat. Anyway the point is that even though the circumstances are a bit different, I understand the anguish of nearly losing a beloved pet. Good luck.

    Now a bit of a rant. The cat was a stray, but we think it was vaccinated against Feline leukemia at least three times, and we had it done once on the advice of the vet. Turns out cats over one year of age don't need, it. Also turns out that cats get cancer from this shot, and are more sensitive as adults, and vets know this. So don't give your cats the feline leuk vaccine after 1 year of age. Also the mammary issue was caused by spaying her when she was in heat - we didn't do this, she was already spayed when we found her. So if you spay the cat, do it when they are younger. It is irritating that it was Veterinarian that caused my cats diseases, when they were trying the "help" the cat. End rant.

  21. kidmugsy:

    Vets are much more business-like than doctors in Britain too. Odd, isn't it?

  22. Curtis:

    Does that imply that you think non-dog owners are entitled to exercise a little preemptive safety and 'remove' dog breeds that have attacked and killed or harmed children?

  23. Wiley Coyote:

    It is our habitat.

  24. mesaeconoguy:

    That's not a problem.

  25. mesaeconoguy:

    They do if they're rabid.

    We are right up against a national forest, so are basically in their habitat. Some of them have become very comfortable around humans, and I've seen them in our backyard, on cars, etc.

  26. marque2:

    How do you even know the Lynx is named Bob?

    Maybe they should do like they did when Grand Canyon first opened and kill all the wild catz

  27. Rick C:

    Which they won't, because they see NHS as a role model.

  28. Bruce:

    Antoine de Saint-Exupery wrote: "You've become responsible forever for what you have tamed.". Your actions in caring for Snuggles are commendable. You, sir, are a good man. Best wishes and hopes for "Snuggs" speedy recovery!

  29. NL7:

    Best wishes for Snuggs. Just went through a similar, but less life-threatening experience with my cat who had an obstruction and then an abscess. The vet himself answered the phone since it was before opening hours, then walked me through the whole process, told me when it would be more extensive and asked to use a sedative, then explained at the end what they did and how my cat might react. He was professional and polite, as was the whole staff, and later we got a note and a $25 gift card to come back. I think one of the most important parts is that the whole thing is a unit, so all the staff works for the vet, unlike a hospital where you have a million different units.

  30. c_andrew:

    But, But, he was so snuggly when he was a wee mite of a pup. Now it's a real problem when he climbs on our laps and wants to be cuddled. Next Great Dane I get is gonna be named Marmaduke.

  31. Matthew Slyfield:

    Even as a pup, a Great Dane is at least a two lap dog, adults can be four or even five lap dogs. :)

  32. marque2:

    So how is the doggy doing? Recovering well?

  33. bigmaq1980:

    " At each step of the process we got a detailed cost estimate in advance
    of the charges we could expect. We were able to request her medical
    records at any time, and they were both detailed and impressive."

    Directly contrasts what I saw today here, on what health care for humans is actually like:

  34. Conny Kersey Culver:

    Snuggles, get well soon! To keep our small dog(Rufus) safe from the golf course Bobcats we had a steel enclosure fabricated with a doggie door from the house into the enclosure. Come by and check it out if you like. Nothing is too good for our furry friends!

  35. Jennifer:

    We lost our cat recently due to what was either a coyote attack or our neighbor's dogs, which are not always on leashes (they have Australian shepherds if that helps), not sure which as there is no way to tell from the wounds. She had a large puncture in her forehead but was not carried off. We found her at the bottom of our driveway. Sadly there was nothing the folks at our emergency clinic,, could do. She had been killed. We buried her under a tree.

    As you can expect we are in agony over this but really want to know who was the killer. Is this the behavior of the coyotes, to kill and leave their prey, perhaps if frightened off as in your case with poor Snuggles? Or is this more of a dog thing, or will we ever know? Any advice would be appreciated. The devastation reaches so deep.