RENO, Nev. (KRNV & MyNews4.com) -- It's not uncommon to see coyotes near populated areas this time of the year, but residents of the Somersett neighborhood in northwest Reno say the problem is getting worse.
Cissie Popson's 3-year-old Yorkie Poo Harley was killed by a coyote last Tuesday just before 5 a.m.
"You knew something was terribly wrong," Popson said. "I mean it was that sound like if you step on their paw. That scream."
It all happened in her own back yard, just feet from her bedroom.
Popsen and her husband heard the noise and ran outside, but it was too late.
"I was there with her rubbing her head when she died, but it happened very very quickly," Popson said. "She was in shock."
Popson said they think the coyote got in by jumping a four-foot fence covered in chicken wire.
"They're definitely more aggressive," Popson said.
Nevada Department of Wildlife spokesman Chris Healy said the drought is causing the coyotes to look for new sources of food.
"They're rearing their pups and part of that rearing process is feeding those pups," Healy said.
Healy said unattended pets are easy prey.
"The coyotes are not looking to harrass humans, but they are looking at humans as a source of food, whether it be dog food left on a porch, whether it be a small dog alone in a back yard," Healy said.
That is what happened to Harley. Healy said the threat won't end any time soon and people should keep a close eye on pets.
"This kind of thing can continue all the way through late October and into early November," Healy said.
Popson hopes her family's loss will make neighbors more careful.
"I'm not trying to blow this out of proportion," Popson said. "I feel safe. I feel safe in my neighborhood, but I don't feel as safe for my animals
or for small children."
If your pet was attacked by a coyote, or if you've seen one stalking your pet, the department of wildlife wants you to report it. The more documented reports they get, the more likely it is that they will be able to find a solution.
You can call the Nevada Department of Wildlife dispatch at 775-688-1331 or USDA Wildlife Services at 775-821-4848.