MISTAKEN IDENTITY – Suspected coyote attack pinned on an owl


by Mark McDermott

Molly came screaming through her dog’s door around midnight on a Thursday night in early November. Its owner, Linda Kirkpatrick, came to see what had happened. Molly was so upset she bit Kirkpatrick, who had leaned down to pick her up. Then Kirkpatrick realized that Molly was a fucking mess.

“When I turned on the light, I saw it had three punch holes on one side and two on the other,” Kirkpatrick said.

Kirkpatrick’s first thought was that the attacker was a bird. Molly, a schnauzer-poodle mix who weighs just 14 pounds, is smaller than a big bird. But when a vet examined the wounds, they appeared too extensive to be the work of a bird.

“The vet said there was no way a bird could do this to her because she was so damaged,” Kirkpatrick said. “She had broken ribs. She had a punctured lung. She had huge holes everywhere. They said she needed surgery. So she was in surgery all day, and they kept saying they thought she was a coyote because she had so many injuries.

The Kirkpatricks live in the 10th and John neighborhood, where coyotes have been spotted for the past year. Neighbor Vikki McMahon spread the word to the rest of the neighborhood via NextDoor, looking for footage of the potential attacker.

“Animal control and vet confirmed it was a coyote,” she wrote. “If you live in the area, please check video footage from that day/period and send to MB Animal Control. If you have any other recent images of coyotes in the area, please send them. Molly has had multiple ribs broken and spent over a week at the vet, but she will be fine.

A few dozen neighbors chimed in, along with photos and other reports of nearby coyotes. The city has struggled with an increase in coyote attacks over the past year. In August, the city council considered hiring a trapper to euthanize suspected coyotes and intends to revisit the matter early next year.

But as animal control officer Kate Anderson conducted some sort of forensic investigation, a new suspect surfaced. She consulted with other animal control agencies and veterinarians, sending photos of the injuries. A Canadian vet who apparently had expertise in bird attacks confirmed Kirkpatrick’s initial suspicions – Molly had been attacked by an owl.

“It came out 100% concluding it was an owl, which I originally thought when I saw what looked like talon wounds,” Kirkpatrick said. “What we learned is that an owl can fly between 10 and 20 miles an hour to just smack their prey to disable it so it won’t fight when they pick it up. That’s how Molly got such serious injuries. And the owl went to get her, and she was probably too heavy…. So he probably dumped her or she got away somehow.

McMahon posted an update informing the neighborhood that the assailant was not a coyote after all.

“We appreciate and thank MB Animal Control for their efforts regarding this incident and apologize for not having the correct information in my initial message,” McMahon wrote. “There are coyotes in this area, but this particular incident was not from a coyote.”

Molly, who is 12, is feeling better.

“She was in the hospital for about five days, very badly injured, but she’s fine now, especially the last few days,” Kirkpatrick said. “She still feels a little weird, but the stitches came out and she started wagging her tail and barking a bit.”

Its owner is recovering a little more slowly. Kirkpatrick discovered that there are two morals to this tale. The first is to not leave your pets out overnight unattended. The second is to make sure that if you are bitten by an animal, even a 14-pound “schnoodle”, make sure the injury is properly treated immediately. She had been so concerned about Molly’s injuries that she ignored hers and now might need a small skin graft on her finger.

“I learned something else,” she says. “If you have an open wound, especially a dog bite, go to the emergency room immediately, within two hours, not eight hours later like me,” she said. “And ER, not ER – you might need intravenous antibiotics, which ER doesn’t. Go to the emergency room.

Meanwhile, Molly does something that surprises Kirkpatrick.

“I didn’t think she would ever go back to the garden,” Kirkpatrick said. “But she does. The thing that Canada [veterinarian] said to Kate is, “What are you doing letting the animals out at night?” And she was like, ‘We live by the beach in California,’ or it was implied. And he said ‘No animals at night.’ And I haven’t really seen it, but a lot of people tell me that we have a lot of owls. Emergency room


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