ANNANDALE, Va. - A 7-year-old Maltese was reportedly killed by a coyote overnight Sunday in Fairfax County, according to police.
Fairfax County Police say the attack happened at the 7000 block of Bradley Circle in Annandale when the dog had been let out in the backyard to use the bathroom and could not be located by the owner.
The dog named Rufus, was found dead by his owner, Mary Trice.
"I whistled for him and usually he'll come right away or I can here him barking, but I heard nothing," says Trice.
"Then I saw this animal, which I assume is a coyote, kind of walking just beyond the fence, so I was a little bit scared."
She says it wasn't until the next day when she went to a local shelter that someone suggested she check past her yard for her dog, since she thought she had seen the coyote.
Trice tells FOX 5 she followed the advice and looked beyond her fence, where she sadly found Rufus half-eaten in her backyard. She says unless she gets a larger dog, she's afraid to leave her other dog alone in the yard.
Authorities say wildlife officials have experienced an increase in the number of calls reporting coyote sightings in recent weeks across Fairfax County.
"Coyotes are now established and widespread in Fairfax County so it is important for residents to know and understand a bit more about them in order to safely coexist with these secretive wild neighbors," says Fairfax County police.
More information about coyotes can be found from Fairfax County and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.