A coyote was shot and will be tested for rabies after a Dallas toddler in Lake Highlands was attacked on Tuesday, officials said Wednesday.
Marlo Clingman, a spokeswoman for Dallas Animal Services, confirmed the shooting, saying she was killed by another agency.
As the 2-year-old boy recovers from the coyote attack, locals say they reported close encounters with the wildlife before one approached the toddler, who was sitting on his porch.
A police officer found the coyote after the attack, who happened Tuesday morning in the 9200 block of Royalpine Drive near White Rock Trail and shot him near an area park. But it’s unclear if he was hit before disappearing into the woods where authorities searched him on Wednesday.
Newton Thomas, the boy’s father, said The Dallas Morning News Wednesday in a text that her son underwent several hours of surgery and is now in stable condition. The boy’s family, he said, is focused on the toddler’s recovery.
Brett Johnson, the city’s urban biologist, said the search for the coyote that attacked the boy is somewhat unprecedented in Dallas.
“I’ve been doing this for about 20 years now, and I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said.
Game wardens from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Dallas Animal Services and Dallas Police Department searched for the coyote on Wednesday. Dallas police have deployed their new aerial drone unit to help, said Michael Dennis, a department spokesman. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services also helped track the animal and put it down, according to animal services.
White Rock Elementary School, located less than half a mile from where the attack happened, has had to suspend its outdoor activities several times over the past two months due to coyote activity near campus, said Richardson ISD spokesman Tim Clark.
In a news release, Dallas Animal Services said city staff met with locals, adding that “several residents” reported that some had fed the coyote.
On Wednesday, the city’s animal services department did not respond when asked how many calls it had received from neighborhood residents near the scene of the attack.
Clingman said the department will hold a press conference Thursday morning.
“The warnings were there”
Heather Duge, who lives several blocks from where the attack happened, said residents tried to contact animal services about coyote encounters in the weeks before the attack.
Duge said she was skeptical of claims that neighbors fed the coyote.
“The whole neighborhood is in turmoil because of this,” Duge said. “The warnings were there for a long time, and we’re just heartbroken about this little child – and it had to come to something like this before help arrived.”
Shery Harrison, who lives in Lake Highlands, said she was watering her plants shortly before 7am in mid-April when she saw what appeared to be a sick dog walking down the street.
Her 8-pound Pomeranian, Marshmallow, was playing in the front yard.
“And then I said, ‘Wait, that’s not a dog,'” she recalled.
Harrison said she spun the pipe on the coyote, which she described as “temperamental.” He turned around and started walking away, she said.
Then Marshmallow gave chase.
“She ran after him, and he literally grabbed her, shook her, and started running,” Harrison recalled.
Harrison chased the animal for about two blocks, but it was too fast for her, she said. Later, someone near her neighborhood told her that her daughter had seen a coyote running with a small white animal in its mouth.
Although she isn’t sure if the animal she encountered was the same one that attacked the 2-year-old boy, she said the experience was horrifying.
“I was shaking; I was a wreck,” she said. “I just can’t imagine those parents having to see that coyote attack their child.”
When she called 311 to report the incident to animal services, Harrison said she was told nothing could be done because her dog was not on a leash.
“Chased by a Coyote”
About a week later, Ava Gonzalez, who works as a nanny, said she was taking the one-year-old twins she cares for on a walk near the intersection of Meadowhill and Dartcrest roads when she encountered a coyote .
It was around 11:45 a.m. on April 20, she said. At that time, Gonzalez said she heard of a coyote in the area that had attacked a dog in the neighborhood. The twins’ mother gave him an air horn and pepper spray to continue the rides.
That day, however, Gonzalez said she forgot to take the items with her.
“I started screaming really loud,” Gonzalez said. “I probably looked crazy, but I was with these little babies.”
She saw the coyote squeeze a dead squirrel in its mouth. When she yelled at the animal, it rolled over and trotted off, Gonzalez said.
Geoffrey Woodbury, who lives about four blocks from White Rock Elementary School, said his 12-year-old son was stunned on the morning of April 25 to find a coyote staring at him when he came out of his house to go to school.
When his son returned immediately after leaving, Woodbury said he thought his son had forgotten something.
“He said no. I just got chased by a coyote,” Woodbury said. started to walk towards him. That’s when he ran to the house.
On Wednesday evening, the city’s Animal Services said it conducted an “automated review” of wildlife-related calls in the White Rock Valley area, but said “results were limited.”
The department said it is now manually reviewing calls from the area over the past three months.