• Bainbridge Island family recounts coyote attack

    By: Ranji Sinha

    Updated:

    A Bainbridge Island mother says a pack of coyotes killed her dog and chased her son to a door of their home during an attack in mid-November. Regina Bellody says it’s an incident that terrified her family and her son, Charlie Odermat. “When he realized they weren’t stopping, he started to run. They tried to bite his legs.” 

    Bellody says her son was traumatized when the coyotes swarmed their home and she’s speaking out as a warning to her neighborhood. Bellody’s family says since the incident, they’ve been a little more alert and concerned when stepping out of their back door. They’ve taken their dog out on a leash, though they admit their remaining family pet is scared of the backyard since the attack happened very close to home.

    “We lost our beloved dog that we had for 11 years. He was a very sweet and gentle dog. It's a horrible way for him to go.“ Bellody says no one should watch their pet attacked by wild animals, but that happened to her son, Charlie.

    Their dog, Sammy, was deaf and didn't hear coyotes that ran up the driveway the morning of Nov. 13. Odermat says he let their two dogs out and heard one of them barking, he quickly noticed the coyotes. “I was just screaming and I would hope they would leave and I was going to get him but they didn't leave.”
     

    Bellody says her son was able to get one dog inside and tried to get the other but couldn’t. That’s when the pack of coyotes tried to get him, and chased him to the door. “He started to run and they chased him and they tried to bite his legs as he was running.” 
     

    Odermat says he managed to get inside and slammed the door behind him. He says the coyotes scratched at the door, and weeks later, when he’s walking home from school, he's still concerned. “I stayed after school for a while and when you stay after there's no kids when I walk home and that's mostly when I'm more afraid.” 

    Thanksgiving week KIRO 7 spoke to a woman who says her cat was attacked by coyotes in Sunset Hill. Coyotes have been spotted and even caught on camera by some Seattle residents. 
     

    Bellody shared her story on Facebook and was flooded with comments about similar incidents. She says one family had their dog attacked, another had their child tailed by coyotes. “I also heard of a neighbor who left their dog in the car with the window half down, went inside the house quickly and coyotes killed their dog right in their vehicle.”

    Sakai Intermediate School sent a warning email to parents about the incident which said the state Department of Fish and Wildlife had been notified. As a parent Bellody received the letter which read in part:

    "…The coyotes were very aggressive. They attacked one dog and
    chased a student carrying another dog all the way to their house.
    Please be aware of this concern if you are out walking pets in this area. They did not seem to be afraid of humans. We have informed the Department of Fish and Game."

    The West Sound Wildlife Shelter says coyote attacks on humans are rare, with no documented attacks on people in Washington until 2006. The group has an extensive list on how to reduce conflicts between humans and coyotes.

    Humans increase the likelihood of conflicts with coyotes
    and other wild animals by deliberately or inadvertently
    feeding the animals, whether by handouts or by providing
    access to food sources such as garbage, pet food, or
    livestock carcasses. When people provide food, coyotes
    and other wild animals lose their natural fear of humans
    and become increasingly aggressive. To prevent conflicts
    with coyotes, use the following management strategies
    around your property and encourage your neighbors to do
    the same:

    • Don’t leave small children unattended
    • Don’t give wildlife access to garbage, fruit and compost
    • Feed dogs and cats indoors - Don’t feed feral cats
    • Keep dogs and cats indoors, especially from dusk to dawn
    • Modify the landscape around children’s play areas.
    Shrubs and trees should be pruned several feet above ground
    level so animals can’t hide in them.
    • Build a fence. Coyotes don’t leap fences in a single bound
    • Enclose poultry (chickens, ducks, and turkeys) in a secure
    outdoor pen and house
    • Consider using a guard animal - certain breeds of dogs,
    donkeys, and llamas
    • Remove road-killed animals that may attract wildlife
     

    Bellody says some danger exists even if coyote attacks are rare. She says some people advised her to use water hoses or even air horns to scare off coyotes in the future. She was even told that she could hire hunters or trappers to deal with coyotes that stray onto her property. She feels speaking out is one thing she can do to warn others. “I don't want other families to go through what we have.”
     

    Bellody and her family have not seen the coyotes since the mid-November incident. She's considering motion cameras as a safety measure in case the coyotes come back.