A coyote killed an Arlington family's dog, prompting police to advise residents to take precautions to safeguard their pets.

The animal attacked the pet, a West Highland terrier, around 7 a.m. Friday while the dog was alone in the family's backyard. Their property abuts Menotomy Rocks Park, where coyotes are believed to reside, authorities said.   

Animal Control Officer Kozikowski said in a news release that last year’s mild winter brought with it an influx in some wildlife typically hunted by coyotes, boosting their population. 

It may be a reason why residents have been seeing them more frequently around town, he added. 

"There will always be coyotes in Arlington," Kozikowski said. "The best ways that we can prevent further interactions with coyotes is to make our homes less of an attraction for them."

To keep your pets safe, authorities recommend that residents near Arlington make sure to:

  • Not approach, feed, pet, or try to interact with wildlife, including coyotes, foxes, or other wild animals.
  • Leash pets at all times if outdoors—small cats and dogs are seen as prey by coyotes, while larger dogs are perceived as competition. 
  • Not hesitate to scare or threaten coyotes with loud noises, bright lights, or water sprayed from a hose.
  • Cut back brushy edges, which often provide cover for coyotes on the hunt 
  • Secure your garbage
  • Keep bird feeders clean. 

"This was an extremely unfortunate incident where a family lost their beloved pet," Arlington Police Chief Fred Ryan said. "While residents should not live in fear of coyotes, we do advise that those with small children and animals be vigilant while outdoors, and follow these safety tips to help prevent interactions with the animal."

Anyone spotting a coyote should call police to report the animal, the department said.