LAKEVILLE, Minn. — Lakeville police are telling people to keep an eye on their pets, especially near the Crystal Lake Golf Course, after a family’s two beloved dogs were attacked by a group of three coyotes in their backyard.
“Our dogs, Lilly and Loki, were inside dogs and usually only spent a few minutes outside,” said Chuck Ryan. “When Lilly didn’t come to the house I went outside… there were three coyotes. I ran down there right after them and when I got close they took off, and she's laying there."
The Ryan family lives in a home that borders Crystal Lake Golf Course, so they, and many other pet owners, can’t put up a physical fence. For years they relied on an invisible fence to keep the dogs in the yard, but he says it did nothing to stop the coyotes from coming in.
"I think they might have attacked Lilly in the yard, and Loki went after them trying to save her,” Ryan said. “But they're too little of dogs with those big coyotes."
Though Loki made it back to the house on his own, he and Lilly both later died from their wounds.
"He had bite marks where they punctured his lungs and intestines,” he said. "They couldn't save him either.”
It wasn’t the first coyote attack in the neighborhood this year.
"For years we would hear them at night and hear the puppies in the summer time,” said Neighbor Nick Branson. “It just was never a problem until this year it seems like."
In June, Branson’s next door neighbor recorded video of a coyote in his backyard trying to lure his dogs. Less than a week later Branson’s one of his three dogs was attacked.
"The coyote followed her right out of the edge of the wetlands, right into the middle of the backyard,” Branson said. “Then the other dog came over and they looked at each other and then they fought for four or five seconds and the coyote just kind of turned around and walked off.”
Lakeville Police have warned residents after each attack but neither they, nor the DNR, can do much more.
"To take a single action, like trapping or killing, can sometimes have very negative consequences and cause the population to, in some cases, explode,” said Deputy Chief John Kornmann.
Though Branson’s dog is now back to full health, they have changed their routine.
"We only let our dogs out front,” he said. “We don't let them out back any more.”
As long as the threat remains, the Ryan family isn’t sure they’ll own dogs again.
"I don't think we will now, not here,” Chuck Ryan said. "These dogs are the ones that meet you at the door when you come home every day. There's nothing like that unconditional love."
Though killing and trapping coyotes isn’t advised, Lakeville Police have these tips for homeowners.