RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT)- For Kevin Shepperson and his fiancee, Michelle, the woods are like a second home. You'll often find the Richmond residents exploring the outdoors, but they're almost never alone.
“I have four dogs,” Shepperson said. “They follow me around all through the woods. It’s a blessing that they love the creeks and they love the freedom of the run.”
Monday night, the couple and their four canine companions were walking in the woods behind Publix on Forest Hill Avenue. Kevin noted that three of his dogs are off-leash, but stay nearby. One of them had wandered off slightly when he noticed something in the trees.
"I thought it was a deer. Never thought it was a coyote. Next thing I know, he started yelping."
Forest, an 11-month old cairn terrier, had been attacked by a coyote. The dog was dragged by the animal about 50 yards across a hillside when the owner sprung into action.
"He was crying, like 'help me, I'm being killed," Kevin recalled. "Then I ran up the hill and found the two coyotes trying to kill him."
Shepperson says he got to within three feet of the animals before they released the dog. In the meantime, the dog’s owner stood between the predators and Forest while the dog escaped.
"[The coyote] lunged down and he wanted to jump on me and I just yelled back at him, staring at his eyes, and he took off."
The puppy was treated at a veterinarian for bites on his back and stomach but is recovering nicely at home. As for Kevin, he says his reaction was pure instinct taking over.
"I knew he needed my help. He's part of my family and I'm going to be there for my family. Even though he has fur, he's still my family."
Richmond Animal Care and Control note that coyote attacks are rare when people are present, as humans often scare the animals away. Forest being slightly separate from his owners may have made the animals feel more comfortable. The organization also says that loud noises scare coyotes, so if pet-walkers are concerned about safety, they can purchase an air-horn which will scare them off.
Kevin says he’ll keep all of his dogs on a leash during the spring and summer months going forward.
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