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Miniature poodle
Lettie, a 10-year-old miniature poodle, was killed Wednesday morning after Dave Riley let her out into his backyard near Owen Park.

A small dog killed by what appeared to be a coyote Wednesday morning is the second pet death in a week after the killing of another dog Friday in Middleton that prompted a warning by police.

West Side resident Dave Riley let his 10-year-old miniature poodle, Lettie, out in the backyard around 5:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Riley said his daughter heard Lettie bark once, then cry for about five seconds before it was quiet. When he went out to check the fenced yard, Lettie was gone.

"Our daughter was pretty sure what she was hearing," Riley said.

The incident, which is not new to the Madison's West Side, came days after a small dog was killed off of Gammon Road in Middleton.

"The dog wandered away from his yard and was found dead the next day with bite marks and puncture wounds under its throat," according to a Middleton Police Department news release about the Oct. 16 incident. "The attack on the dog was not witnessed, so it is not possible to determine if the attack was by a coyote or another dog(s)."

However the dog's owner Randy Bruce said the cockapoo "had injuries that were consistent with a coyote attack."

Patrick Comfert, lead animal control officer for the Madison-Dane County Health Department, said his office hadn't received any reports of coyote problems until recently when he heard of a separate incident of a dog killed by a coyote in Madison's Highlands neighborhood in August. Two other residents of the Highlands neighborhood reported earlier this year that their dogs had been attacked and killed by coyotes, although both people didn't see the attacks occur.

And while Comfert sympathizes with the owners, the situations aren't surprising.

"An urban coyote acting in a normal manner for an urban coyote ... may attack small pets if unattended by their owners," he said.

Riley added it's hard to be angry with a coyote, despite losing his dog.

"They're just reminding us the world that we actually live in is a natural world," he said.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's wildlife services division installed two motion detector cameras in the Highlands neighborhood off of Old Middleton Road to monitor coyotes after residents became frightened that a child could be attacked.

However the cameras failed to mug any coyotes and were taken down later that spring, said Chip Lovell, district supervisor for wildlife services.

"This is the first that I've heard of any more incidents since the spring," Lovell said Thursday. "It's been pretty quiet all summer long."

Maureen Rowe, a wildlife biologist for Dane County with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, said reports of dogs being attacked and killed in the area are nothing new, but the culprit might not always be a coyote.

"There's not a doubt in my mind that coyotes are taking small pets in Madison and Dane County," Rowe said, but added it might be other dogs or animals doing the killing.

Bruce said he had seen coyotes in his neighborhood before, but not for about a year.

But after what happened to Tucker, "I don't think we'll let our dogs off leash in our yard at night," he said.

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