SALEM — On a recent Saturday morning, a Salem woman walked into Fort Lee, a wooded area along Collins Cove, followed by her two small dogs. She entered under the power lines and climbed to the top of a hill.
After reaching the top, Sharon Shea said she heard a yelp and spun around to see her two black Schipperkes, which weigh about 12 pounds, being attacked by an animal she called a “coywolf,” a coyote-wolf hybrid, but which a state wildlife official said was probably a coyote.
The woman scooped up the dogs and headed out of the woods.
“The coywolf came after me,” said Shea, who lives on Memorial Drive.
Shea said she yelled and threw rocks at the animal, but it kept coming.
“Every time I turned my back, it came within a couple of feet,” she said. “I was so concerned about the dogs, I wasn’t concerned about anything else.”
Shea said the animal followed her out of the woods and back to her house, going through backyards.
Once home, Shea examined her dogs and found that Cricket, a 4-year-old female, had a puncture wound from the attack. Shea said she cared for the dog, which was not seriously injured.
“If he had hit her spine, it would have killed her,” she said.
Shea reported the April 19 incident to Don Famico, the city’s part-time animal control officer. Famico said there have been three coyote sightings in that area in the past few days.
“We’re getting calls, mostly in the Memorial Drive area and the area around Camp Naumkeag,” he said. Camp Naumkeag, a city facility, is on Memorial Drive.
Famico said this is the first report in some time of dogs being attacked by a coyote while with an owner.
Shea said her pets, Cricket and Black Magic, had been on leashes, but went off the leashes when entering the woods and were only a short distance behind her.