A coyote snatched a small dog from inside a Laguna Beach home Monday night, prompting fears that the animal could just as easily have made off with an infant who was in the same room.
John Fischer, who lives in the 500 block of Oak Street with his wife, said the couple's three Chihuahuas started barking about 7:45 p.m.
Fischer, who was in the kitchen, didn't think much of the noise. The dogs were in the bedroom with his week-old granddaughter, and he assumed they were reacting to a visitor they were expecting.
But as he left the kitchen, Fischer glimpsed something running out of the bedroom and into the yard. It was a coyote, and it was carrying something.
"I could see the white in his mouth," Fischer. "They're very fast. He was gone like a shot."
Fischer had enough time to see the animal had seized Eloise, an 8-year-old Chihuahua.
"The dog was screaming," he said. "It was awful."
Fischer searched for the coyote, hoping he'd scared it enough to drop the dog, but he found nothing.
Typically, Fischer explained, he closes up the small cottage around dusk, hoping to keep out the coyotes he and his wife see around their property.
In this case, he'd forgotten to shut a pair of double doors that lead from the bedroom to the yard.
Laguna Beach police took a report on the incident but weren't immediately available to answer questions about it.
Last year, an OC Parks officials said increased sightings of aggressive coyotes could be due to California's record drought.
Fischer said he now feels under siege from the animals.
"It's almost like you feel like they're just waiting for you to drop your guard," he said.
But Fischer's biggest fear was for his granddaughter, who was asleep in her car seat just a few feet away from Monday's attack.
He worries she could've easily been taken instead.