Mojo and Toto are armed and ready -- for a coyote attack?
Hillary Hart’s dogs spend a lot of time outside in the family's backyard while their St. Petersburg owner’s away.
“I started seeing horrible stories about cats going missing and small dogs,” says Hart, who lives in the Old Northeast neighborhood. “That’s when I became concerned.”
More and more coyote attacks and sightings led her to buy “coyote vests." The vest are protective gear for her dogs, both wee little Bichons Frise.
Coyote vests start at about $70 and can be ordered online. Air horns and pepper spray are more affordable options.
Hart doesn’t want to think about the alternative.
“They’d be a tasty little tidbit, I think," said Hart.
One of Hart’s neighbors, Heidi Bardi, saw a coyote first-hand. It was not a pleasant experience.
“It had legs sort of like a deer’s,” says Bardi. “Mangy fur. It was the ugliest looking thing. It was freaky. I wouldn’t want my dog running around at night.”
St. Pete officials posted warnings online about coyotes, saying the animals are most active around dusk and dawn.
If you happen to encounter a coyote you should scream or make loud noises (possibly with an air horn). Other things you can do is throw rocks or use pepper spray. This is called coyote “hazing.” Anything to scare the animal away.