A coyote attacked a toddler in front of her family’s Woodland Hills home in broad daylight Friday and tried to drag her away before her father rescued her, according to security video and the young girl’s family.
The coyote can be seen attacking the child as her father was busy locking up the family’s SUV, the family’s doorbell video showed. The animal knocked the child down, grabbed her left leg and attempted to drag her away as she screamed.
The girl’s father swept up the child in his arms and immediately chased the coyote away, throwing a water bottle at the animal.
“I heard her screaming and crying and I thought she fell down and I saw the coyote was there,” Ariel Eliyahuo, the toddler’s father, told NBC4. The father and child had just returned home from an outing.
The incident occurred about 3:45 p.m. and was caught on security video shown on NBC and several other local TV stations.
The young girl sustained scratches to her leg and was taken to a hospital to get a rabies shot, the family said.
Patrick Foy, a California Department of Fish and Wildlife public information captain, said the agency was conducting a joint investigation with Los Angeles County Animal Care & Control to search for the coyote.
“This coyote has been a major problem on this street for weeks,” Foy said. “We had already been talking about this as there were previous reports about the coyote potentially threatening pets.”
KTLA noted a coyote appeared Friday evening near the Eliyahuo’s home. It is believed to be the same animal involved in the attack.
Foy said only a few hours before the incident, members of Fish and Wildlife’s Natural Resource Volunteer Program canvassed the Woodland Hills area, passing out fliers to neighbors and talking about coexisting with coyotes and surrounding wildlife.
Foy said investigators are testing the bite marks in the toddler’s clothing for any DNA left behind through microscopic traces of saliva.
The goal, according to Foy, is to create a “complete DNA profile of the animal.”
Currently, wildlife officers are hunting for the coyote with dart rifles. Any captured coyotes could then be tested to see if their DNA matches that of the attacker.
If the coyote is found, it will be euthanized and tested for rabies, officials said.
According to Foy, there have been seven attacks by coyotes on humans in Los Angeles County this year and countless assaults against pets.
The website Coyote Catcher, run by the University of California system, listed eight coyote sightings and one pet killed this year in the Woodland Hills and Canoga Park areas.
Foy said it was important that neighbors not feed coyotes or potential coyote prey, like rabbits.
Residents are also advised to secure pet food and to build coyote-proof fencing that is at least eight feet high. More tips can be found at keepmewild.org.