Family’s dog killed by coyotes near Wheaton elementary school

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WHEATON, Ill. — The Flynn family is devastated after their 7-year-old Cockapoo, Riley, was attacked and killed by two coyotes late Wednesday.

The family said they let the 20-pound dog outside just before midnight. He quickly darted across the yard and through his electric fence — being chased by the coyotes. The family didn’t see the animals when they let Riley outside.

Owner Bernadette Flynn said her husband and daughter searched their Wheaton neighborhood for Riley, who they found behind their home, near the Hurley Gardens tennis courts. The park isn't far from Madison Elementary School.

“She [my daughter] saw some white fur on the ground,” Flynn said. “She went over to him. He was still alive, and there were two coyotes standing over him. She ran up, and they ran away.”

The family rushed Riley to the vet, but he died on the way. Now, the Flynn’s are warning other residents in the area to keep a close eye on their animals.

“You can't be complacent,” Flynn said. “Don't assume [coyotes] are not in our neighborhoods walking among our homes. If you have a small pet, you really can't let it out of your sight. If we had known at all, we would have kept him on a leash every time we took him out.”

With the onset of winter, experts said, coyotes are more willing to venture out of their wooded habitats into residential areas in search of food and shelter. The city of St. Charles has released tips to help residents keep their neighborhoods safe:

  • Never feed coyotes.
  • Remove bird feeders and outdoor pet dishes during winter months. These attract squirrels, which coyotes prey on.
  • Make sure garbage is stored in a container with a secure lid; do not allow containers to overflow.
  • Never leave children or small pets unattended outside.
  • Clear or cover wood and brush piles, and check under decks. Coyotes are likely to use these for shelter.
  • If coyote sightings are common in your neighborhood, consider installing a fence or motion-activated light in your yard.
  • If there is an encounter with a coyote, stand up, yell at it, wave your arms, and throw something at it from a safe distance. The response may not be immediate, but the coyote will eventually become intimidated and retreat.
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