CLEVELAND (WJW) -- A local family is mourning the loss of their beloved pet dog after it was recently attacked by a group of coyotes in their yard.
Matthew Allen lives in Cleveland's Little Italy neighborhood with his girlfriend and her family. They considered their nine-year-old pug named "Yoshi" as a family member.
"She's about nine years old. We have had her about nine years. She's been very close to everyone in the family," Allen said.
With Allen and his girlfriend both out of town, his girlfriend's mother was caring for Yoshi.
Yoshi's caretaker let her outside to use the bathroom, which was part of the dog's typical routine. According to the family, that's when Yoshi was attacked.
"When she went out to go check on her, that's when the coyotes already attacked her and she screamed and they ran off. There was a pack of them. Then she called my girlfriend, who called me, and I tried to call her mother to calm her down," said Allen.
The family had never before been concerned about coyotes, particularly in such an urban setting.
"The only thing that we have seen is like wild turkeys, raccoons, like groundhogs and squirrels and stuff. In the year and a half that we have been here its never been an issue," said Allen.
The predators are believed to have come through a hole in a fence that separates their property from the Lakeview Cemetery next door.
"We have sensor lights and that normally scares them off. They are normally shy creatures. The other detail I found out is it's breeding season between January and March, so it makes them really aggressive, which probably made them more emboldened and, with the winters here, they don't mind going into someone's yard," said Allen.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources describes coyotes as the state's most prolific predator. The animals are in every one of Ohio's 88 counties and can adapt to urban environments.
ODNR says they can be more aggressive during the months of January through March when they are mating. They are normally timid and flee away from humans.
Allen says everyone in his family is devastated by the loss and hopes their experience helps other Ohioans learn that their pets could also be vulnerable to coyote attacks.
"Each moment is special so you have just got to be cautious with some things that you are not aware of. I guess situational awareness is the biggest thing. The only other thing, like I said, now you just don't ever leave your dog alone, like always be around them. I guess it could happen anywhere," Allen told FOX 8.