A coyote attacked a dog on Clifton Street during daylight hours last week that left both a dachshund and a young woman going through a series of shots as a precaution to contacting rabies, according to a police report.
But suggestions made by the veterinarian for the resident – whose dog was bitten and whose daughter came in contact with the attacker's saliva, according to police – who called the coyote's actions "unusual" and the animal "possibly rabid" was most likely incorrect, according to Belmont's Animal Control Officer.
"That is bogus information," said John Maguranis, who works out of the town's Health Department. He said since rabies is a fatal virus, the shots are being given as a "precaution" since the animal has not been caught and can not be observed.
"There is no evidence that this coyote was rabid. In fact, what he was doing is fairly normal at this time of the year," said Maguranis.
The assault occurred a few days after a resident called in the incident to police Saturday, May 14. She asked what the police would do if they confront a coyote which was demonstrating the same behavior.
"Officers would assess the matter at the time," said Belmont PD's Lt. Richard Santangelo.
The resident called the police to also say that her neighbors had seen the coyote that day but it was gone by the time the police arrived.
In fact, Maguranis said he received "a lot of calls" from Friday to this Monday of a coyote in and around a four street area including Cilfton, lower Concord Avenue, Prentiss Lane and Rockmont Road.
"There's (a coyote) around there," said Maguranis, who said that it appears to be a number in and around Habitat, including a sighting of one with a cat in its mouth.
"That's a warning that if you leave your pets out, they may not be coming back," said Maguranis.
Maguranis said despite many people believing that coyotes are nocturnal, and while the animal does a majority of its hunting at night, "they are in fact diurnal and will routinely seek prey during the day."
"So it's common to see them looking for small animals and that will include small dogs," he said.
The reason coyotes may appear more aggressive and are frequenting neighborhoods more often is due to a growing family. Most coyote dens are currently filled with on average six hungry pups and with the mother required to stay with her brood, males are forced to bring in enough food for him and a weaning female.
"This is the time of year that they are most active," said Maguranis, who is working the town's IT Department in creating a 'coyote tracker' in which residents will be able to submit reports that will create a map of locations where the animal has been. That mapping webpage will be available to the public "soon," said Maguranis.