Silver Lake pet owner asks for proactive approach after coyote snatches a dog named Rockie

Elvia Valenzuela and Rockie | Courtesy Elvia Valenzuela

Elvia Valenzuela and Rockie | Courtesy Elvia Valenzuela


SILVER LAKE — Imagine walking your dog at night, and then suddenly, your furry friend is quickly whisked away by an elusive coyote and disappears into the night.

That’s exactly what happened to Elvia Valenzuela on the night of Thursday, April 17, near the intersection of Coronado Terrace and Scott Avenue in Silver Lake. Valenzuela stepped out with her roommate, Fatima Moreno, to walk her four dogs. Then, a lone coyote quietly took Rockie, Valenzuela’s 9-year-old female Pomeranian Chihuahua, who was off-leash.

Valenzuela screamed in horror when she realized that a coyote had taken Rockie. One of the dogs, Lola, a 7-year-old Chihuahua who was also off-leash, ran back home in fear. A Good Samaritan chased after the coyote, but it was too late. The coyote and Rockie vanished into the night.

Valenzuela and Moreno moved to this quiet neighborhood from East Hollywood in January. Valenzuela had heard stories of pets being taken by coyotes, but never thought it could happen to her.

“I took it for granted – walking with them without a leash,” she said. “It was a big mistake.”

Although the shock has settled, Valenzuela’s pain of losing Rockie is very fresh. She hopes other pet owners can avoid the pain of losing a “family member,” as she puts it, by taking a proactive approach to pet safety.

“Do some research on coyotes and understand coyote behavior,” she advised. “Keep them [dogs] on a leash, but that doesn’t mean that they [coyotes] aren’t going to attack.” She also advised to keep trash properly contained, to bring pets inside at night and to keep pet food inside.

If financially possible, an option for homeowners is to install coyote rollers, which safely keeps coyotes from climbing up and over a fence.

Although Valenzuela is extremely saddened for her loss of Rockie, who was her first dog, she has no ill will for coyotes.

“We’re in their habitat,” she said. “They have babies to feed. They are going to make sure they do everything possible to know that they are fed,” she said in reference to the coyote mating season, which is from January to May.

“I am more comforted knowing that she is going to good use, not just for play,” Valenzuela said.

Rockie | Courtesy Elvia Valenzuela

Rockie | Courtesy Elvia Valenzuela

Cecilia Padilla Brill is a communications writer and journalist. She writes news, health, education and feature stories. Cecilia is currently working on her first novel. She has lived in Echo Park since 1999


  1. Keep your dogs on a leash people. Not only is it the law it might also save their lives.

    • Please do NOT leash your dogs. Please continue to drive with them in your lap and put them in baby strollers. You humans are weird when it comes to dogs, but at least it keeps me fed!

  2. I am so sorry to hear this. What a great loss. I have been making sure I have my dog on a leash in Debs Park for this reason. I used to walk my dog off leash, but now I am very vigilant because the drought has created huge problems for the coyotes and they are desperately hungry. I am very saddened at the loss of your beloved pet, but thank you for sharing. This post might save others. Please remember to keep your beautiful pets on a leash.

  3. bathing at baxter

    This happened to someone I know who was on her phone whilst the dog trailed behind her. A stray dog saved her dog by engaging and scaring off the coyote. The woman continued to let her dog trail off leash from then on until she moved & good riddance to her.

  4. This is a totally unnecessary tragedy. Use a freaking leash, people.

  5. If you love your dog, use it’s leash.

    It WILL save your dogs life in more ways than you know.

    Traffic. Coyotes. Attacks. Aggression by Dog Haters.

    I experience off-leash owners in Elysian Park constantly. If your off-leash dog bites me, or stops in front of me and trips me while I’m jogging, I could file charges against you that could put your dog down.

    I am a dog lover, but I’ve seen people who are terrified of dogs being approached by off-leash dogs on the trail. Even if your dog is friendly, approaching someone who is not a fan of dogs to just sniff them out can lead to bad situations where a dog or person ends up hurt. I’ve seen dogs get kicked/hit out of this fear.

    If you have a dog, remember you are it’s GUARDIAN, not it’s “owner.” Protect it.

  6. Yup. I was running at the park today when a little off-leash dog ran right under my foot. I tried to avoid it but sprained my ankle and broke that poor dog’s leg. Now that lady is going to have a big fat vet bill and I have a big fat ankle. It is a law for many many reasons.

    • Watch where you’re running you clumsy oaf! Bungling klutzes like you are a danger to leashed and off-leash dogs. In all my years of jogging, on pavement and dirt and during an era when off-leash was common, I’ve never experienced such an embarrassing “Fail”. You might want to consider mastering walking before promoting yourself to jogging,

    • Just got off the phone with the lady who’s dog ran under foot breaking his leg and spraining my ankle. I thought she was calling to see how my ankle was (the polite thing to do). No, she was calling to ask me to split the bill with her! HAHAHA now that is some rich comedy! But I guess if you are self-entitled enough to allow your dog to run around off-leash, asking me to split responsibility for something I had no fault would be expected!

      • But you are at fault for not being nimble enough to avoid animals directly in your path. Would you run directly into a skunk? Coyote? Deer? Mountain lion? Of course not. You watch where you’re going and avoid mobile and stationary obstacles such as dogs, cliffs, and boulders. You’re entitled to share the trails but NOT entitled to compel eveybody else to accommodate your obvious lack of focus and coordination. Perhaps you should restrict yourself to jogging laps around your own home? At least until you’re coordinated enough to not be a hazard and public menace to the rest of us on public streets and trails.

        • See what I did here everyone?!!! My uncanny ability to twist and spin explanations and arguments to fit my own delusions! See I’m picking on “Juan hour photo” here because he disagreed with me on a different post! And EVEN THOUGH Juan hour photo refused to acknowledge my trolling behavior by not responding to either of my comments which would encouraging my trolling behavior, I could not resist trolling him with a second comment! Even I(?) know that an off leash dog leaves the owner 100% responsible for what happens to them but man oh man, can I twist and turn depending on how the wind is blowing! SHEEWEW I really impress myself sometimes!

          Sorry, off I go to troll rehab…

  7. I am Rockie’s owner and am totally grateful to Cecelia for getting this story out. I can not blame anyone for the biggest mistake of my life. However, there are other precautions that can be taken besides the number one being using a leash that unfortunately even that will not guarantee 100% prevention. There is also a lack of street lighting in many of our neighborhood streets and overgrown bushes in some home fronts as well as the sidewalk landscaping. We can use a leash, a flashlight, and pepper spray or a stick, but nothing guarantees 100% prevention unless you keep your furry babies inside at all times. Even one’s backyard is not necessarily safe when a coyote is out doing what it is doing naturally. Just be careful everyone.

    • Sorry for your loss but we should not find excuses, for the sake of other dog owners out there. Please leash your dog everyone.

      Coyotes are scavengers and animals of opportunity that pick off small isolated animals. Your dog being on a leash – 6 feet away from you (a human) — would deter a coyote as they do not attack humans (very rarely) or groups of animals.

      Your presence near and attention to your dog would deter a coyote attack.

      If Coyotes had full reign over dark streets or overgrown areas of Los Angeles, as you mention, you would have exponentially more human attacks.

    • These are some things EVERYONE can help with. Try to minimize things that might attract coyotes to your block:

      Don’t leave dog food or cat food outside.
      Clean up fallen fruit and keep compost and trash covered (coyotes are omnivorous).
      Clean up dense brush and other places coyotes might hide.
      Install motion-triggered lights.

    • I’m very sorry for your loss, and I wish that as a first-time dog owner moving into an area frequented by coyotes that someone had warned you about taking precautions when walking dogs, especially between dusk and dawn. Thank you for sharing your story (and enduring judgmental comments) in the hopes that someone out there will learn from it. Rockie was a beauty, and I’m sure you shared some wonderful times together.

  8. First of all, coyotes don’t belong in residential areas. The best thing for coyotes is to be absolutely TERRIFIED of humans NOT the other way around. I diligently practice non-lethal hazing and any coyote stupid enough to stray near enough to me and my dogs is getting nailed by the first stone or stick that I can reach. These coyotes are so obviously coddled that they don’t even react until they’re actually hit and finally learn what it means when a human reaches for something to throw at them. Also, coyotes have never been healthier or more numerous around these parts. Not the bony, mangy runts that you might catch a glimpse of in the old days. I personally believe that it’s because there are no longer packs of young boys wandering the hills with BB guns and wrist-rockets and their bigger dogs rousting these varmints. Nowadays you can hear them yipping and yelping every morning between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. I repeat, coyotes don’t belong in residential areas and if they are it’s because too many people are accepting and cultivating familiarity rather than hazing and instilling justifiable fear of humans.

    • All that hazing by white people has shifted from coyotes to brown people. Am I right?!! C’mon Proper! You know that’s what you really want to say!

      • Your post is incoherent. Can’t make it out at all beyond it being an example of utter imbecility and insecurity about white people(?), brown people(?), coyotes(?), all of the above(?). WTF are you trying to say, boy?!? Spit it out!?!

    • Proper Dos, for once I agree with your post. (Both of them on this story actually).

      Coyotes must continue to be fearful of us, but many humans think that’s mean. It’s not mean. Coyotes are getting more aggressive because of these mamby pambi types who think we are in the wrong for living where coyotes dwell, and therefore we should accommodate the coyotes.

      I live in the Los Feliz hills. Coyotes abound. I hike frequently up to the Hollywood sign. I have never, ever, seen a coyote or deer up there. It is void of wildlife up there. Coyotes are among us in our neighborhoods because we draw them there with our food in trash cans, and for many other reasons. We must continue to make them afraid of us.

      About 10 years ago there was a pack of coyotes which were attacking grown ups (joggers, bicyclists, etc.) near the Zoo area. The county had to track that pack down and kill them. Good. So anyone who thinks Proper Dos is wrong, sorry, Mr. Dos is right.

      When you see a coyote, throw anything you can at it. They will eat your babies. (OK, and your dogs, in case you care about dogs.) This is the kind of story that makes Proper Dis compatible with us white breeder types who have moved in to the faux “eastside”. The white anti-gentrification-artist-liberal-and-oh-so-open-minded types don’t care about our babies. (They tend to find children a burden but seem to care a lot about their damn dogs.)

      • Steve M., thanks for the vote of confidence but I would also alert you to the fact that when you’re in GP you must assume that there is at least one coyote (if not a pair) no more than 100 feet from where you’re standing. I personally encountered and reported the large pack that was congregating immediately up the street from the ranger station at Crystal Springs, which it turns out were being fed(?!?) by presumably well-intentioned but severely misguided visitors. I recommended non-lethal hazing to the rangers too and it’s sad to find out that they ultimately decided to go the lethal route. Coyotes are smart. They learn quickly. Simply and aggressively defend your turf and they’ll learn to respect your turf. At which point, you’re speaking the coyotes language instead of trying to assimilate them into human society(?!), which is severely misguided. These animals are born survivors, which means killing and eating anything they can catch, kill, and consume.

      • Btw, I regularly see deer, coyotes, and other wildlife at GP and am bracing for rattlesnake season but they are a much rarer sight on the touristy south side of the park but much more common in the more rugged north side. I can recall tearing down the closed road on the north side on my bike, coming around a turn, and almost smack into a pack of no less than five coyotes who were already reacting to the strange sound nearing behind them. It wasn’t until one of them looked over its shoulder that it realized what it was. It yelped and they all scattered and disappeared into the surrounding brush faster than a Hobbit. Not the first time I’ve witnessed that disappearing act. Coyotes and deer are also a regular sight around the golf course next to Crystal Springs. I once had a full-grown and beautiful buck leap into the trail by the train ride no more than 50 feet in front of me and from the direction of the 5(?!). I never could figure out what it was doing there but they’re there.

  9. Don’t waste even one minute responding to the troll bait laid by properdos! Not worth it!

  10. If you see a coyote on your streets, do it a big favor and NAIL-It with the nearest stone or stick you can reach. If you happen to see one that reacts and runs out of range, that’s one that I’ve already educated. You’ll have nothing to worry from those. The mere scent of humans sends them running in the other direction. I’ve got very good aim.

    • Your macho man shtick is tiresome. We get it, you own a shotgun and are ready to blow away any intruders on your property and you have deadeye aim and are just bursting with so much masculinity you throw rocks at animals. El Chucko Norris over here.

      • The standards for “macho” and “masculine” are incredibly low for a marshmallow like yourself. Otherwise, it’s common sense to discourage wild animals from roaming on human turf. Buy a clue and get a grip while you’re at it.

      • It’s also common sense to defend your property from trespassers. Not with a multi-clip assault rifle but with something loud and potentially lethal. The increasing lack of common sense in American society is one “change” that I simply won’t abide.

        • You’d feel more at home with the gun nuts in the republican party. You’d just have to tone down the la raza crap for that crowd

          • Barbarino, I am a gun-control advocate and your liberal prejudices lead you astray once again, i.e., Clueless. Btw, Vivva La Raza!

    • Tony the Main Spoon

      Proper D! My local Coyotes are super fast and can jumb over my head, I bet. Once I happened to follow one rolling down Scott St in EP, as it was traveling in my direction. That cunning dog is smart as hell. You might throw out your arm trying to hit it with a stone.

      • Tony the Main Spoon

        Darn cell phone: Jump*

        • Tony, I used to be a regular jogger around silverlake reservoir and the resident coyote pack began following me and my dogs from the inside of the fence. When one began to crawl out of an opening under the fence ahead of me I ran up and NAILED-It but good before it could retreat with a startled and satisfying yelp. Afterwards, when they would see me crossing on the northeast corner of the lake for the climb to the other side, they would retreat into the brush. Coyotes are smart and quick learners and my selfless actions prevented future incidents that would only result in serious trouble for them, i.e., Win-Win. If only my naive and self-indulgent neighbors would do the same coyotes would learn more respect for humans and our pets, e.g., I only WISH that the resident coyote pack that regroups with yips and yelps between 3am and 5am in the morning would do so nearer my home. They wouldn’t feel safe much less welcome for long.

      • Like I said, that may be one that I’ve already educated.

        • except you said that as “Proper Dos”, not “Procopio”. how many usernames do you have?

          i bet you’re your own “impostor” as well.


          • Does it matter how many user names I have? As long as my all-knowing wisdom shines through to all. Now sit down and listen.

          • Now if I could only convince myself that impostor really exists…

          • Two tribute-impersonators? My fans are legion. Even when I’m not here, I’m here(?!). Bow down to Proper the Omnipresent!

  11. First of all, coyotes don’t live in silver lake and Los Feliz proper. You people are acting like they stroll sunset taking feeding off your brunch plate in broad daylight. They come down to the streets and residential area strictly for when food is scarce in their normal hunting ground. I can’t say I know much about the “old days” but I haven’t seen a plump coyote in the six years that I’ve been living in LA. All I see are scrawny adult coyotes and I see them on a weekly basis. And they pretty much keep their distance from humans. If they get that close its because they’re starving, not fearless and plump. Throwing rocks isn’t going to do anything. The fact of the matter is the one youre throwing rocks at hopes you do because there’s most likely another coyote behind you circling around for whatever prey they have a target on. They’re not dumb animals. They’re hungry and acting instinctually to survive.

  12. This is sad on many levels. It’s not a surprise that coyotes live all around us and would go after (especially small) dogs. Yes, a leash isn’t a guarantee – but that’s like saying a seat belt in a car is not a guarantee. You still do it because it lowers your risk.

    I don’t even understand how this is a “story.” Of course someone walking around the hills with a small, off-leash dog is at risk of losing said dog at any time. It’s sad that people still think it won’t happen to them. Is your pet family? Protect your family – use a leash!


    I don’t understand people who want us to “just live with” coyotes (and even mountain lions) who savage our cats and dogs as people and housing encroaches on their territory. You say you don’t want coyotes killing off our small pets but can’t bear them being killed or even scared away as subdivisions and people encroach on “their” territory? Not to worry; soon there won’t be any small pets left for them to eat and they will have to move on. Or, since you are so interested in helping them, why not leave your small pets and small children out in the yard for them? Oh, but you say you are rather fond of your small children? As fond as you are of the coyotes? Rattlesnakes and Black Widow spiders are indigenous as well but I don’t see anyone advocating we provide snacks for them! MAKE A CHOICE, PEOPLE!

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