A coyote has been shot dead and will be tested for rabies after a Dallas toddler in Lake Highlands was attacked on Tuesday, officials said late Wednesday.
Marlo Clingman, a Dallas Animal Services spokeswoman, confirmed the shooting, saying that it was killed by another agency.
As the 2-year-old boy recovers from the coyote attack, residents say they had reported close encounters with the wild animals before one approached the toddler, who was sitting on his porch.
A police officer found the coyote after the attack, which occurred Tuesday morning in the 9200 block of Royalpine Drive, near White Rock Trail, and shot at it near a park in the area. But it’s unclear whether it was hit before it disappeared into the woods where officials searched Wednesday.
Newton Thomas, the boy’s father, told The Dallas Morning News on Wednesday in a text that his 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 stunning in Dallas.
“I’ve been doing this for about 20 years now, and I haven’t seen anything like this,” he said.
Game wardens from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Dallas Animal Services and Dallas police searched for the coyote Wednesday. Dallas police their new aerial drone unit to help, said Michael Dennis, a department spokesman. The US Department of Agriculture’s wildlife services also helped track the animal and shot it dead, according to animal services.
White Rock Elementary School, which is less than half a mile from where the attack occurred, has had to halt outdoor activities multiple times in the past two months because of coyote activity near the campus, said Tim Clark, a spokesman for Richardson ISD.
In a news release, Dallas Animal Services said city staff had met with people in the area, adding that “multiple residents” reported that some had fed the coyote.
The city’s animal services department on Wednesday did not respond when asked how many calls it had received from neighborhood residents close to where the attack occurred.
Clingman said the department will hold a news conference Thursday morning.
‘Warnings were there’
Heather Duge who lives several blocks from where the attack occurred, said residents had been trying to contact animal services about coyote encounters in the weeks leading up to the attack.
Duge said she is skeptical about claims that neighbors had fed the coyote.
“The whole neighborhood is in an uproar because of this,” Duge said. “The warnings were there for a long time, and we are just heartbroken about this little child — and it had to come to something like this before help came.”
Shery Harrison, who lives in Lake Highlands, said she was watering her plants shortly before 7 am 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 turned the hose on the coyote, which she described as “skittish.” It turned around and started walking away, she said.
Then Marshmallow gave chase.
“She ran after it, and it literally grabbed her, shook her and took off running,” Harrison recalled.
Harrison chased after the animal for about two blocks, but it was too fast for her, she said. She later heard from someone near her neighborhood who said their 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 horrific.
“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 that 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 1-year-old twins she cares for on a walk near the intersection of Meadowhill and Dartcrest drives when she encountered a coyote.
It was about 11:45 am April 20 she said. By this time, Gonzalez said she had heard about a coyote in the area that had attacked a dog in the neighborhood. The mother of the twins gave her an air horn and pepper spray to carry on walks.
On that day, however, Gonzalez said she had forgotten to take the items with her.
“I started yelling real loudly,” Gonzalez said. “I probably looked like a crazy person, but I was with these little babies.”
She saw the coyote clenching a dead squirrel in its mouth. When she yelled at the animal, it turned and trotted away, 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 walked out of his house to go to school.
When his son returned immediately after stepping out, Woodbury said he thought his son had forgotten something.
He said, ‘No. I just got chased by a coyote,” Woodbury said. “The coyote was at the corner of our yard, and my son said he and the coyote locked eyes, and then it started going towards him. That’s when he ran back up to the house.”
On Wednesday evening, the city’s animal services said it had conducted an “automated review” of calls related to wildlife in the White Rock Valley area, but said “results were limited.”
The department said it is now manually reviewing calls from the area from the last three months.