Police search for coyote after dog attacked in Mill Creek Park

Mill Creek MetroParks' police chief said the park is a "wild place," so pet owners should use caution there

BOARDMAN, Ohio (WYTV) – Police with Mill Creek MetroParks are on high alert after a woman reported her dog was fighting with what sounded like a coyote on a popular walking trail Wednesday morning.

“About 7:30 in the morning, a female was walking her dog in the area of Scholl Pavilion,” according to Mill Creek MetroParks Police Chief Jim Willock.

Her quiet walk quickly turned frantic.

“Her dog got off the leash, was chasing something, heard it fighting something,” Chief Willock explained what the woman reported. “When the officers arrived, they heard what they believed to be a coyote.”

Her dog took off, and she called 911 right away. Officers responded immediately.

“She was pretty upset,” Chief Willock said. “Our officers were able to locate her dog, get her dog back to her and get her to her dog.”

He said the dog was not hurt in the scuffle. And officers searched for the coyote but didn’t find it.

“We did a pretty good search for it this morning,” Chief Willock confirmed. “No one was able to locate the animal. It’s just… you gotta be careful. The park is a wild place. The park is meant to be that way.”

That means, while your chances are slim to encounter a dangerous wild animal, it’s  possible.

“Your best bet is just to calmly remove yourself from the area of the animal,” Chief Willock advised. “I will tell you this is very uncommon.”

In fact, Willock said since he took over in 2009, this is the first time a coyote has been reported in the main section of the park. They are spotted on the bike trails occasionally.

But it’s no cause for panic.

“I don’t want to alarm people,” Chief Willock continued. “I don’t want people to be concerned. But if you carry something like pepper spray, and spray it in the general direction of the animal — trust me — they have a much stronger sense of smell than we do.”

Police don’t know if the dog was off the leash when it ran across the animal, or if the woman dropped the leash when the dog spotted it. But either way, keep a close eye on pets out walking and don’t let them out of sight.

“All animals should be on the leash in the park,” Chief Willock cautioned. “There’s a rule that all animals are leashed in the park. Yes, you need to keep them on that. And the leashes need to be a certain length. We have people biking and things like that. If you have one of those long leashes, it could cause an accident with a biker or runner or something like that.