CLEVELAND, Ohio- A surge in coyote sightings and attacks across Ohio has some nervous pet owners turning to a strange looking product for protection.
“I thought they were crazy looking for sure,” said Carlton Ross.
It’s called CoyoteVest Pet Body Armor and designed to protect both dogs and cats.
The flexible kevlar vest is lightweight, but slightly “medieval” looking with long flexible whiskers and rows of metal spikes positioned on the animal's body where coyote and hawks are known to strike.
“Nothing’s gonna want to bite that,” said Carlton, who along with his girlfriend Cassie Smith purchased the vests for their two Jack Russell terriers, after seeing coyotes creep closer to their home.
“Oh it’s so nerve-wracking cause you can hear them howling from here,” said Cassie.
The vests are made in America and were invented by Paul and Pamela Mott after one of their beloved dogs Buffy was snatched and killed by a coyote right in front of them.
“Our goal is to help prevent others from experiencing the heartbreak we suffered,” said the Motts.
The vests cover the animal's neck and back, but Dr. Gretchen Zarle with Bartels Pet Hospital in Brecksville points out that the top of the pets head and legs remain exposed.
“It’s always a crime of opportunity,” said Dr. Zarle, “If they’re able to reach in and grab something like that then they can still take them away.”
However, Dr. Zarle, who has no affiliation with the company does think the vest is well made.
“It’s designed to slow down the attacks, so the human has time to react which might be a golden lifesaving few minutes,” said Dr. Zarle.
The vests range from $69.95 to $99.95, and have numerous testimonials from owners who say the vests saved their pets from being taken.
Ann Nerone in Highland Heights bought one for her miniature pincher Gracie after two close encounters with red-tail hawks.
“They dove right down on her,” said Ann, “And you know in both cases I was right there.” Ann says the hawks seem to totally ignore Gracie now that she’s wearing the CoyoteVest.
“I can’t imagine watching your pet get taken that way,” said Ann, “It’s an alternative to doing nothing.”
Wildlife experts say, there are several things everyone pet owner can do right now and for free.
Experts with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife say pet owners should never leave a pet outside alone, off leash, especially during nighttime hours, because coyotes are nocturnal.
Coyotes are also scavengers, so people should keep their yards clean and secure all trash bins, pet food and grills before nightfall.
Coyotes are also generally afraid of people but are becoming desensitized so it is extremely important to “scare” them off the very first time you see them on your property.
ODNR recommends clapping your hands, yelling, shaking a can filled with rocks or even using an air-horn to scare them away.
And finally, immediately report any fearless or aggressive coyotes to the Division of Wildlife immediately at 1-800-WILDLIFE (945-3543)
Get the latest on tips from ODNR by clicking this link