HARRISON COUNTY, W.Va (WDTV) - Animal advocates have an ominous warning for pet owners: if you live in a rural area and leave your dog or pet out unattended, it could become the next victim of a coyote.
The message comes during the middle of the coyote breeding season, which lasts between mid-January and mid-March.
"During the breeding season, obviously they're out moving a little bit more," said Frankie Dennison, executive director of the Humane Society of Harrison County. "They're going to be a little more active; they're going to be a little more aggressive, just because number one, they're hunting for food, but number two, they're also in the process of trying to procreate."
By nature, coyotes are scavengers. Dennison has heard of coyotes snatching dogs that weigh up to 40 pounds.
"I know, personally, of several people who have wooded areas and have lost their pets," said Dennison. "A lot of times, all you'll find are little tuffs of their fur."
If your pet were fortunate enough to survive an attack, the damage left behind could be crippling.
"Obviously, coyotes have a lot of teeth," Dennison said. "They can cause some serious bite wounds, which obviously can get infected. Of course, you always have to worry about rabies, if your animal isn't up to date on rabies."
Dennison reminds pet owners to keep a close eye on their pets, put their dogs on leashes, and not to let them run around their yards unattended--at least during this mating season.
In the extended interview above, Dennison warns people that coyotes can resemble dogs from afar.