Pip’s death is a reminder to beware of coyotes



Pip died after two attacks in his yard in Davidson, NC.

Coyotes are more prevalent than ever in Lake Norman, NC neighborhoods these days, and they’re presenting a new danger for our pets. Two coyotes fatally attacked a dog in his Davidson yard last week, and his owners say it’s a reminder that pet owners need to beware.

Bruce and Lynn Henderson of Lynbrook Drive, off Concord Road, lost their 10-year-old Sheltie named Pip last week after he was attacked for the second time in two weeks.

The dog’s injuries from the Jan. 7 and Jan. 16 attacks were so serious he had to be euthanized.

“I hope our neighbors learn from our painful lesson: Keep a close eye on small dogs and cats, which coyotes target as easy prey,” Bruce Henderson said Tuesday. “Make sure rabies vaccinations are up to date (coyotes are carriers). And don’t assume fences will keep them out — we think our coyotes wriggled under the wire, and they easily scaled its 4-foot height.”

Experts say humans are the coyote’s only real threat in North Carolina right now, leaving most other small animals and pets as prey for the 20- to 40-pound animals. They’ve been seen with increasing frequency on greenways and trails and in neighborhoods.

In 2011, Cornelius police issued a telephone alert after a woman walking her dog spotted a coyote on the McDowell Creek Greenway, off Westmoreland Road.

Residents in other neighborhoods in the Lake Norman area also have reported seeing or hearing coyotes in recent years. The problem of urban coyotes came up at the Mecklenburg County Commission in February 2012, after fatal attacks on dogs were reported in east Charlotte and other neighborhoods.

Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation set up a coyote page on its website, offering information and asking residents to report sitings.

Bruce Henderson, the environmental reporter for The Charlotte Observer and a longtime member of the Davidson Lands Conservancy, said this month’s attacks were the first time he has seen coyotes so close to homes in Davidson.

“We see deer routinely in our yard, and we’ve seen foxes, groundhogs, skunks, raccoons, barred owls and other types of urban wildlife that in retrospect are probably coyote prey,” he said. “But we’d seen no suggestion that coyotes were in the area.”

Pip, a 25-pound Shetland sheepdog, was inside a 4-foot fence in the Hendersons’ back yard during the first attack on Jan. 7. A neighborhood boy saw the attack from the street around 5 or 5:30pm. One coyote attacked the dog in the backyard, while another coyote was outside the fence.



The Hendersons’ two, larger Australian shepherds ran out out of the house as Pip scooted inside through a dog door. The coyote jumped the fence and fled. (Experts say coyotes can leap a 6-foot fence.)

A passing Fed Ex delivery driver flashed his headlights and honked his horn to help scare off the coyotes, Bruce Henderson said.

After examining Pip’s injuries, veterinarians told them they believe both coyotes had attacked at once, biting him all over his body, including to all four legs.

Henderson said Pip seemed to be on the mend until Jan. 16, when he got out of the house and into the backyard again. Lynn Henderson came home to find him bloody again.

“The vet told us those bites were superficial. We think the Aussies chased off the attacker. But the vet found that Pip’s skin had been basically ripped off the muscle over most of his body during the initial attack — the coyotes apparently shook him like a rug, one on either end,” Bruce Henderson said.

That led to an infection, and the dog’s skin was dying. A long and uncertain recovery seemed likely. “We couldn’t let him suffer through that, so put him down,” Bruce said.

23 Responses to “The importance of supervising your Sheltie when outside.”

  1. Jeanette Matlock

    Horrible. I am always yelling at my husband not to leave our 3 dogs unattended in the back yard. I will this to him & maybe he’ll take me more seriously. We live near a nature preserve in Tampa Bay. There have been coyote sightings by others in this area.

  2. Peggy

    So heartbroken for Pip and you. What a tragic and frightening way to die. I hope you have many wonderful memeories of him.

  3. Jessica Zibura

    Very sad. I live in a rural area surrounded by National forest. Although we enjoy all sorts of outdoor fun with our shelties, we have the cardinal rule of absolute supervision and all shelties inside after dark(especially during backyard campfires).
    I will say dusk and dawn aren’t the only time to worry about coyotes. Just last summer, my dad shot two that were in our backyard around noon. They were going after a new born calf in my neighbors pasture- scary thing was my Sheltie Pumpkin was in the front yard at the time.

  4. Deb Skolnik

    So sorry to hear about this. I had a small Sheltie who was attacked and shaken by a bigger dog (not a coyote) and died of her wounds, too. We now have collies, and they are allowed out in our yard, but only when we are home. One of them never stays out long anyway (short attention span!) but the other is an 85-lb. dog who likes to sleep outside even in the coldest weather. We make him come in periodically.

  5. Kim

    So very sorry for the loss of your beloved Pip, thank you for sharing your story so that we may be vigilant.

  6. P. Price

    I’m so sorry for the loss of Pip. It’s hard enough to lose our pets, but to lose one this way is even more heartbreaking. Wild animals are losing their own habitats & have adapted in a way that makes them less fearful of being in human surroundings so they can pose a serious danger to our pets. We all need to be more vigilant, especially in rural & semi-rural areas.

  7. Rita Buquoi

    My son in law was outside with his pup before dawn and a coyote came out of nowhere and snatched the poor thing and ran off with it. That happened in south Louisiana. They are becoming more & more prevalent and getting braver.

  8. Jo

    Poor Pip! We have coyotes in our suburban Detroit neighborhood. Coyotes serve a useful function in keeping rodents under control so if you have bunnies, mice, rats, etc in your area you may well have coyotes even if you don’t see them. Found an interesting article, which states that the taking of pets during daytime hours is halfway down the list of ‘Sequence of increasingly aggressive coyote behaviors.’


    I guess the only way to be safe is to always accompany your pet outside, which DH & I don’t do, esp at night, which seems to be the most dangerous time for coyote attacks on pets. Poor Pip, Shelties are so gentle, I hate the thought of him being hurt. Condolences to Mr. & Mrs. Henderson this is terrible.

  9. Sullivan

    I am so sorry for your loss of Pip, Mr. and Mrs. Henderson. How terrified Pip must have been, but is now pain free and will be waiting for you at the Bridge. Rest in peace Pip.

  10. Evelyn Christina Attanasio

    Terrible!!! It seems there are more and more coyotes everywhere. In CO in our neighborhood alone, in one year, 13 dogs have been killed by coyotes. We never can leave our dog out (Sheltie) alone. We are always with him and try to keep him safe.

  11. Alison

    This is all so sad… My heart is broken for this beautiful sheltie and all thoes who will for ever have sheltie prints on there hearts.


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