A typical stroll through a residential Markham neighbourhood turned dramatic and potentially dangerous for one woman when a prowling coyote tried to attack her and her dog.
Ravinder Malhi was walking her eight-year-old miniature pinscher, Coco, at around 11 a.m. on Monday near her Bellcroft Lane home when she suddenly found herself staring at a coyote.
Malhi said she scooped up Coco and started screaming for help while simultaneously grabbing handfuls of snow off the ground and chucking it at the animal. The animal stepped back slightly but started growling, she said.
“I was terrified. I was thinking, ‘I’m done for today.’ There was nobody, not a single human being and I’m with my little puppy with a coyote right in front of me,” Malhi told CTV News Toronto.
“I’m otherwise a very strong person but in that moment I was terrified.”
Suddenly, Malhi said she noticed someone else was screaming along with her.
Muriah Umoquit was working from her Silverdale Road home that day when she heard a commotion happening outside on her front lawn.
Umoquit said peaked out her front window to see what was going on. She said she decided to grab a snow shovel before venturing out to investigate further.
“I saw someone throwing snow and I thought, ‘That’s a weird scream for a snowball fight.’ I kind of ignored it (at first) because I thought someone was just playing, but when I looked again I saw the woman was throwing snow at a coyote,” Umoquit said.
As soon as she caught a glimpse of the coyote lunging at Malhi and Coco, Umoquit barreled out her front door and started making as much noise as she could.
Her attempts to scare off the animal were captured on her home security system. The video shows Umoquit slamming the snow shovel up against the side of her porch fence repeatedly while shouting.
“I thought the coyote would see both of us so I banged the shovel a few times and it would go away at first but it ended up being really persistent,” she said.
In the video, Umoquit can be heard yelling for Malhi to grab her dog and take shelter in her home. But,as Malhi makes a run for the porch, she trips and falls in the snow, dropping Coco in the process.
Despite the banging by Umoquit, the coyote took the opportunity to make one last lunge at Coco.
“Normally when you see someone fall you would help them up but I just didn’t taken my eyes off that thing and threw some snow at it. It got more aggressive after that because the dog was on the ground. If there was an opportunity for it to jump and snatch that dog, that was probably the moment.”
Eventually Malhi was able to snatch Coco back up and make it safely inside.
“I’m blessed to have a neighbour like that,” Malhi said, referring to Umoquit. “I wouldn’t even know what I would’ve done without her. Seriously, it was just like an angel in my life at that moment.”
Malhi said she and Umoquit noticed that the coyote hung around in the area for a little while before wandering off in an unknown direction.
She said the community should heed her experience as a warning.
“Be careful with small kids, don’t let the dog go out and don’t let them come out with the kids,” she said. “If you have to come out with them, bring something in your hand or a stick whenever you come for a walk.”
According to the City of Toronto, here’s what you should do if you see a coyote on or near your property:
- Never run away from a coyote.
- Encourage the coyote to keep moving by shouting and gesturing aggressively.
- “Be big” by standing up and raising your arms in the air. Make yourself appear as large and threatening as possible.
- “Be loud” by stomping your feet, clapping your hands or yelling “go away coyote” to alert people nearby.
- “Be threatening” by throwing a tennis ball or a pebble or stick at the coyote. You want to show the coyote who is boss but not injure it.
- Avoid turning your back, maintain eye contact and slowly back away
- Once you’re safe, call 311
The city goes on to encourage residents to prevent coyotes from sauntering onto your property by getting rid of food sources in your yard, removing bush and weeds and avoid feeding pets outdoors.