"A doggie was trying to drag me into the woods!" Those were the haunting words that 7-year-old Lauren Allard said to her mother, but her mother knew that it was no dog. As she checked her daughter for bite marks, only one animal came to mind: a coyote.
Denise Allard and her daughter live on Prudent Island off the coast of Rhode Island and she has seen an increase in coyotes over the years. She often hears them in the distance but once remembers seeing one staring at her from her neighbor's backyard. The coyote would not run away until her neighbor grabbed a rifle and gave off a couple of errant shots.
Lauren's constant companion is her Yellow Lab, Kelly. "There aren't many kids on the Island, so I just play with my dog." As the two were playing one evening in the backyard, Lauren wandered across a narrow street behind her house. Luckily, she was followed closely by her pet. "I heard the dog barking frantically and Lauren screaming," says Denise. As she ran outside, Lauren was running home crying. The little girl says that a dog had suddenly lunged at her and grabbed her arm in its mouth. As the animal was tugging at her, Kelly jumped into the situation. The 80-pound lab barked and bit at the animal until it ran away.
"I was shaking and she was shaking," says Denise. "It was a shock. I was numb." She checked her daughter's arm for bite marks but found none. The only evidence of the attack was a scratch under Kelly's chin.
The coyote attack marks the first reported attack on a human in Rhode Island in over 50 years, according to Charles Brown, Principal Wildlife Biologist for the State Department of Environmental Management. While "it's always a possibility, I don't necessarily think it's a trend," says Brown.
"These animals aren't supposed to be coming as close as they are. I haven't let Lauren out since the incident," Denise said. "It's sad. She should be able to go out in the backyard. Attacks only take a few seconds. These are sneaky animals. They stalk."