VANCEBORO, N.C. (WNCT) – On Saturday night, Sheila Sandhu’s worst nightmare came true.
“I heard this little squeal and then was it dead silence,” said Sandhu.
Her seven-year-old Maltese Shih Tzus were mauled by a coyote in Vanceboro over the weekend while outside on a bathroom break.
“Their bodies are so mangled,” said Sandhu. “I just don’t know how to describe the sickness…that it’s making me feel – that their little innocent bodies are having to go through this.”
The wounds are leaving her two little dogs fighting for their lives.
Sampson has bite marks along his throat, mere millimeters from his trachea. Delilah also has bites along her throat and back.
Both dogs are undergoing treatment at an animal hospital in Grifton.
“We’re also having to deal with anxiety and the emotional elements that have happened since the attack,” said Dr. Ivy Heath, Faithful Friends Veterinary Hospital. “You don’t think about that with pets sometimes but it is very, very real.”
North Carolina wildlife officers said it’s not unusual for a coyote to attack dogs as small as Sampson and Delilah.
At this time of year, coyote pups are looking to go out on their own and mark their territories by killing.
Sandhu has already spent nearly $3,000 on medical treatment for her babies, and she is not done yet.
“You can’t put a price on love, but at the same time it’s very, very expensive,” Sandhu said.
She bought a trap she plans to put in the woods and is looking to find trappers.
Heath said it will take nearly a month for both Sampson and Delilah to completely heal.
Sandhu said it’s a miracle they didn’t die that night.
The best option for handling the coyote population is trapping.
North Carolina allows trapping 365 days per year.
The USDA is also testing forms of birth control for coyotes, although no contraceptives have been approved yet.
Until then, wildlife officers are offering tips for you to figure out if you’re at risk of an attack in your backyard.
“Squirrels will attract foxes and coyotes,” said Chris Kent, a wildlife biologist with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. “Also, people who have a lot of brush and thick vegetation around their houses or along the edge of the woods behind their house, those areas can attract rabbits which then can attract coyotes.”
To protect yourself from coyotes, here are a few tips from the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission: secure garbage containers, keep pets inside or inside a fenced area, install coyote-proof fencing and don’t feed or try to pet coyotes.