By CECILIA PADILLA-BRILL
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.
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