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Dog owner: Coyote attacks, kills Maltese in Darien

DARIEN — A coyote reportedly attacked and killed a Maltese about 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in Darien after the dog was let out in a residential back yard.

“I let him out and I turned around and it sounded like a little girl screaming in the back yard,” said owner Dan Shelstrom. “I didn't know what it was and then I heard it again and looked out my back door and the coyote had my dog in its mouth.”

Shelstrom instinctively ran outside and the coyote dropped his dog, Harley. He was still alive, but had puncture wounds and two of his vertebrae were smashed. After bringing him to the Arboretum View Animal Hospital, it was determined that the 6-year-old dog would have to be put down.

“It's a bad situation and I just don't want anyone else to have to go through what we had,” Shelstrom said. “He was a part of our family.”

Shelstrom called the Darien Police Department Thursday to inform officers about the attack, he said.

Darien Police Sgt. Greg Cheaure said coyotes are indigenous to the area, but typically there is an increase of sightings during the winter months.

“Typically we'll see an increase in the sightings during the wintertime because their food sources (small animals) are all in hibernation,” Cheaure said. “We'll tend to see more reports in the wintertime just because their normal food source is disrupted.”

Cheaure also advised residents not to leave food outside and to walk animals on a leash. He said coyotes are usually afraid of humans, so if residents do see a coyote, they can clap or make excessive noise and the coyotes tend to retreat.

Coyotes may be indigenous to the area, but there have been sightings or attacks reported lately in the suburbs, including Riverside and Brookfield.

But since Shelstrom and his wife have been living in Illinois, they didn't think in their “wildest dreams” their dog would be attacked.

“We probably have as many pictures of him as we have of our kids,” he said. “We're empty-nesters, so really he was like our young child.”

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