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Locals upset over coyotes

Community fears that next victim could be a small child, after several pets are taken from backyards

Posted: June 15, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: June 15, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Members of the Afetian Family, from left, Alex, 8, Olivia, 5, Cassandra, 12, mother Kathryn and Christina, 10, hold a photo of their 1-year-old “Mal-Shi” dog Bella, who they believe was eaten by a coyote.

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A string of recent dog-nappings — with coyotes thought to be the likely culprit — has homeowners in Fair Oaks concerned.

About one pet per month has been scooped from backyards in the Canyon Country neighborhood in the past six months, an issue that has residents concerned for the safety of pets and small children.

Victimized pet-owners with homes backing onto the southern ridge of the Angeles National Forest want something done before a coyote attacks a child.

“Something should be done to protect not only our pets, but our children,” said Katheryn Afetian, who last month lost her fluffy dog Bella to a predator.

Small dog snatched
On Aug. 24, an 8-pound fluffy cream-colored “Mal-Shi” dog — half-Maltese, half-Shih Tzu — named Bella arrived by plane from Nebraska, specially ordered for Afetian’s daughter.

On May 27, Bella vanished.

“I’m carrying on a tremendous amount of guilt about this,” Afetian said.

“I let her out into the backyard at about 10 o’clock. I was watching her through the door. I stepped away, not even for a minute, and I heard her yelp.

“I could tell by her yelp that she was grabbed,” she said. “It was one small quick yelp. I saw nothing.”

At least three other dogs — including two owned by the same person — were killed by predators, and the pet owners believe coyotes are responsible.

In May, pet owner Christine Franchimone had her dachshund attacked and carried off by coyotes.

Before than, a woman who owned two “small- to medium-sized” dogs had both pets attacked.

The Afetian family has a 6-foot fence around their property but, obviously, not high enough to deter predators.

They live in the area of Cardinal Drive and Toucan, a cul-de-sac, which follows the natural ridge line of a hill leading deep into the heart of the Angeles National Forest wilderness.

Only hills, trees and valleys separate the Fair Oaks community from the Placerita Nature Center which is less than 1.5 miles due south.

Other predators
On Christmas Day, visitors to the nature center reported a mountain lion sighting.

“Coyotes, foxes, bobcats and mountain lions are part of our natural environment as much as squirrels and birds,” said Ranger Frankie Hoffman, a recreational services supervisor at the Placerita nature center.

Hoffman, who has photographic evidence of a mountain lion spotted in Walker Ranch, said it’s important that residents do everything they can to make their homes less attractive to natural predators.

“If you feed your dogs and cats outside, remember to take in the food,” he said.

Coyotes are just one of the “necessary” predators in the food chain, Hoffman said.

“A grey-horned owl is far more likely to carry off a cat or small dog than a coyote,” he said. “They’re one of our largest flying predators. It doesn’t matter if you have an 8-foot fence.

“They sit in a tree and wait and wait and wait — and when you let your pet out, it swoops down and grabs it.”

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