Commentary: Beware of Back Bay coyotes

I moved to Newport Beach near the Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve Conservancy from the other side of Dover Drive five years ago.

We had an idea that there might be wild animals but never thought we would have to live with them or accept them preying on our pets.

It was 4 a.m. Feb. 7. My 9-year-old little dog, Simba, woke me up by spinning around on my bed, scratching my leg, as if he wanted to be let out for his morning bathroom break. Following our familiar routine, I let him out the back door, turned on all the lights, ran to the bathroom and then proceeded to welcome him back in the front door.

I opened the front door only to notice that Simba was nowhere to be found. I grabbed a flashlight and aimlessly began to search for him.

Running up and down the streets, calling for him, I asked some early-morning runners if they had seen my brown-and-white Chihuahua, but none had.

One person commented that she had seen either coyotes or two frail-looking dogs less than a mile away.

I went back home after what had seemed like forever, and I noticed that my neighbor's light was on but didn't think anything of it at the time.

I grabbed my two children and proceeded in my car to go looking for our dog. It was now 6:45 a.m., and Simba was nowhere to be found.

We came back home to get ready for school, and my next-door neighbor was outside. She said she had heard a loud yelp!

She had heard that sound before, when coyotes took her cats. She commented that she was so sorry and knew that Simba's passing went fast.

As much as I didn't want to hear it, deep down in my heart I knew I had lost my Simba.

I then recalled that my other neighbor had recently lost her dog, Billy, to coyotes that had hopped her six-foot fence to grab the animal.

She had heard about our incident and was here in a heartbeat, feeling my agony.

For as much as we love the beauty and serenity of the Back Bay, we also need to be aware that these predators are becoming more brazen, circling our streets and backyards to grab their meals and go.

We need to be more observant, knowing these wild animals live among us, and be more vigilant about keeping our pets safe.

The misconception is that coyotes only come out before sunrise and sunset, when in fact they can be seen at all times of the day.

I was totally distraught about losing my Simba. I made a call to animal-control officers and explained that my dog had just been brutally killed and literally eaten alive by coyotes in the Back Bay.

The person who took my call was not at all helpful! I asked if any remains fitting my Simba's description had been found, but all the officer wanted was the breed, color and my dog's name.

Feeling unsettled, I then took my kids to school. Lo and behold there were so many others who had already heard of our incident and shared similar experiences.

All concurred that something needs to be done. Maybe coyote signs should be posted up and down our streets, warning residents to take precautions, as a public courtesy.

Maybe Realtors can inform buyers that we have coyotes and other wildlife here in the Back Bay.

I have been a resident of Newport Beach for years and have never had this kind of issue arise.

The city should have coyote signs all around the area, informing residents of the danger to pets. Maybe animal-control officials could alert us when coyote activity is intense.

I realize coyotes were here before us and have rights. We don't harm or kill them, but they kill and harm our pets. What's next?

They could carry away a 1-year-old who is playing outside because they are so brazen and comfortable.

Do we just sit back and accept that they could just grab our loving pets for meals? Something needs to be done!

If anyone has recommendations or can appreciate my story, please let me know.

MARY ELIZABETH PERRY lives in Newport Beach.

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