It can be hard to imagine with certain smaller breeds, but our dogs did descend from wolves. The tiny Chihuahua, the ferocious wolf, and the sneaky coyote all fall under the same biological umbrella. Some larger or more wolf-like dogs often get confused for one of their wilder cousins for this reason. Usually, it’s a harmless mistake. But sometimes, confusing a domestic dog with a wolf or coyote can lead to disaster.
Greensboro, Vermont residents Alison McKnight and Steve Perkins returned home one day to something extremely unsettling. Their 11-year old dog Cassidy, who usually awaits their return, was nowhere to be found. They started to fear the worst. McKnight said:
“I came back home from my run and she wasn’t on the steps like she usually was. I had a bad feeling immediately.”
Sadly, not long after that they discovered their sweet Alaskan Husky had been shot to death outside of their home. Because there were no footprints in the snow near the dog’s body, they suspect a hunter shot the dog from a car. Perkins explained:
“She had been shot very unethically. If any of the rules that were already in place had been followed, she would still be here.”
Not only do Vermont regulations prohibit hunting from a motor vehicle, the dog was on posted land that forbids hunting. Brenna Galdemzi with Protect Our Wildlife attributes a general dislike and fear of coyotes to horrible accidents like this.
“People are killing coyotes just because they hate them. That’s everything that’s wrong in the world.”
Naturally, McKnight and Perkins want whoever would do this to their dog to be brought to justice. They’re offering a $500 reward to anyone with more information on the shooting.
How To Tell A Dog From A Coyote
Disobeying laws and posted rules aside, there are several ways to avoid mistaking a family pet for a wild animal. Since coyotes are not strictly nocturnal, you can commonly see them out and about during the day in or nearby their natural habitats.
NYC.Gov provides some helpful distinctions:
“In general, coyotes appear ‘sleeker’ than domesticated dogs, with a flatter forehead and a more pointed snout. Coyotes appear to have longer legs than domesticated dogs, while dogs appear to have deeper chests. Also, they have very different tracks. Coyote tracks are more elongated, and they place their front and back paws in alignment when they walk.”
Be vigilant, but think before you act. You may never know whose loved one is out there in their own yard until you take a closer look.