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Dog eyed as meal ticket for coyote

'As a carnivore, more than likely the coyote had blinders on when it attacked...'

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May 26, 2010 - By David Fleet


Ortonville-Tipping the scale at just over 20 pounds,"Mia," an overweight 3-year-old miniature Doberman pinscher, is not all that fierce.

However, what Mia lacks in stature— she makes up in luck.

Just after daylight on May 20 Mia, along with "Sophie," a 60-pound chocolate lab, were turned out into the backyard of their owners Greg Majcher and Kathy Krivak home in the 400 block of Ortonville Road. The couples 5-acre parcel is mostly wooded and rather swampy —home to raccoons, opossums, not to mention a few deer. About a half acre is grass, surrounded by an invisible fence—a perfect setting for the dogs to run, said Majcher.

"It was a typical morning," said Majcher. "The kids were getting ready for school, Kathy was in the kitchen—plenty of activity and noise in our home."

The placid scene changed quickly.

"My fiancee Kathy heard Mia let out a yelp and ran to the back door of the house," said Majcher. "She saw the three dogs out there about 10 yards from our back door."

The third dog was a 50-pound coyote, said Majcher— about two feet from Mia.

"Kathy yelled at the dogs to get back in the house—that's when the coyote grabbed Mia from the side and began pulling her back toward the woods."

Kathy raced outside toward the animals, swinging a plastic rake and chasing the coyote back into the woods, but not before Mia received wounds to her side, including ribs which protruded through the skin.

"I didn't think Mia was that bad at first," said Majcher. "The seven bite marks are about six inches across and required about 200 stitches at an area veterinarian. The extra pounds may have been a lifesaver—that layer of fat kept the teeth out."

Majcher, a long-time hunter and outdoorsman, reported the attack to the local Department of Natural Resources office who recorded the incident; however, they do not trap or attempt to exterminate the animal.

Brian Roell, Michigan Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist and wolf specialist from the upper peninsula, was not surprised by the attack.

"My first thought would be, why is the coyote there in the first place? Is there pet food left out or garbage like a Dumpster in the area?" said Roell. "Most of these situations stem from a human- related situation or action. The next question would be, is the animal sick or does it have pups nearby or maybe a den in the area? These animals are resourceful and accustomed to the human beings around a urban area."

"Consider, too, that when you kill for a living like a coyote does—a dog or any animal is a meal ticket. The dog was just in the wrong place at the wrong time—hopefully the animal will get the idea now that if it gets too close to the house they will get chased by a person with a rake. Still, coyotes are very adaptable and can survive anyway or anyhow."

"As a carnivore, more than likely the coyote had blinders on when it attacked—it ignored the lab barking nearby and the human activity in the house. It was time to eat, it spotted a target and went for it—my advice is just don't underestimate wild animals."

With his children in the area, Majcher remains on alert.

"Right now I don't feel safe sending the kids or the dogs out in the back yard," he said. "There's not a lot anyone can do. I'm mortified—my daughter wants to have a sleep-out in the back yard I don't think so now."

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