‘I just punched it right in the jaw’: woman fights coyote to save small dog

North Shore News

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Denise Baker-Grant cuddles with her two dogs Maggie and Gizmo in front of her home Wednesday, a day after she punched and kicked a coyote that was attacking a stranger’s dog. photo Mike Wakefield, North Shore News

A North Vancouver woman is rattled but otherwise OK after fighting a coyote to save a small dog from its clutches near Grouse Mountain on Wednesday.

Denise Baker-Grant said she was in the lower Grouse parking lot around noon, getting ready to take her sister’s dogs for a walk on Powerline Trail, just east of the Grind, when she was alerted to the attack.

“I heard somebody screaming, so I just went running,” recalled Baker-Grant. “I got there and a coyote had this lady’s dog. She had her back to me so I just kind of ran around her and grabbed the coyote on the scruff of the neck – and then I just punched it right in the jaw.”

The woman was holding the dog with the leash wrapped around her arm, while the coyote was standing on its hind legs relentlessly trying to snatch the small dog.

In that moment, Baker-Grant quickly called to memory a tip she had learned about dealing with an aggressive dog and how you can unlock its jaw when it’s biting.

“To punch it right where the jaw starts,” explained Baker-Grant. “So I just punched (the coyote) and it released the dog and I pushed the dog to the owner. Then I grabbed the rest of the coyote on the lower back and then I just threw him.”

Undeterred, the animal came back towards Baker-Grant, who proceeded to kick and scream at the coyote, which she described as looking unhealthy and “really ratty.”

“He was growling at me for a while and I was kind of freaked. I thought he was going to attack me,” said Baker-Grant.

The coyote eventually ran off, at which point Baker-Grant grabbed a first aid kit from her truck and tended to the injured dog and its shaken owner. Baker-Grant believed the dog to be a bichon-shih tzu cross of about 20 pounds.

The dog’s owner didn’t speak English but communicated her gratitude through gestures. Baker-Grant said the dog sustained minor puncture wounds in the attack and was taken to the vet by its owner.

Baker-Grant is no worse for wear after her coyote encounter, besides sore muscles from throwing the animal.

“I could barely move last night after dinner,” said Baker-Grant.

As for what instinct kicked in when she saw the coyote, “I don’t even know,” said Baker-Grant. “I just saw it attacking and I ran.”

She said she wouldn’t hesitate to again step in between a coyote and a pet. “When it comes to fur babies, I have three dogs at home. … I would do anything for my animals and I couldn’t imagine that happening,” said Baker-Grant.

After the attack, Baker-Grant said she will be staying away from the Powerline Trail for a time and is hoping for more warnings, in the way of signage or social media posts, in areas where coyotes have been spotted.

“I’m just lucky I got there when I did because that dog would have been shredded,” she said.

There were no reports of a coyote attack on a pet yesterday in Grouse Mountain area, said Insp. Murray Smith with the Lower Mainland section of the B.C. conservation officer service.

He encouraged anyone who is involved or witnesses an encounter with wildlife to contact them right away.

Asked if the public should be concerned about walking their dogs in the area, Smith said, “I don’t think anybody should adjust their habits.”

“The thing is these type of encounters are going to happen from time to time, but it’s very, very rare.”

Smith said while he understands emotions can run high when a pet is being attacked, he doesn’t recommend picking up a coyote.

“There’s a good chance you could get bit,” Smith said. There’s also a chance the coyote could be rabid.”

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