Annoying as they may be to some, these animals are native to the
area and aren't likely to be leaving soon.
In fact, they were here before people were. It's a matter of
educating humans on how to live among them , said Animal Services
Officer Dave Pietarila.
Coyotes are a common challenge , especially in North Laguna, said
Pietarila, a three-year veteran who previously worked for 15 years as
a veterinary technician before joining Laguna Beach's Animal
Coyotes, which are most active in the early mornings and evenings,
are the predominate predator in North America, Pietarila said.
In addition to coyotes, rattlesnakes are another indigenous animal
that keeps animal services on its toes.
Officers have responded to calls of rattlesnakes inside houses,
but most commonly they are found on driveways and in garages when the
pavement heats up with the afternoon sun, Pietarila said.
Despite the frightening sound of the warning rattle, a rattlesnake
usually won't bite a human unless the human steps on it, Pietarila
"As long as you don't antagonize it, it's not going to do
anything," Pietarila said.
Unfortunately, domestic animals such as cats and dogs can't always
read the warning signs of a predator about to attack.
Cats and small dogs can become an easy target for coyotes, said
Pete Kvarnstrom, a veterinarian with the Laguna Beach Animal
Pet owners should keep cats inside and dogs on a leash to avoid
encounters with a coyote or rattlesnake, Kvarnstrom said.
Kvarnstrom said he's known of several situations where an owner
was walking a small dog and a coyote attempted to take the dog.
Feeding raccoons or skunks that come onto private property is also
a danger because these animals can cause significant trauma to pets,
Rattlesnakes are a threat mainly to dogs, Kvarnstrom said. If a
dog is bitten, the venom causes extreme swelling and bacterial
If treated promptly, the pet is likely to survive a snake bite,
Kvarnstrom said. He added he cannot remember a time when a pet has
died from a snake bite while being cared for at the hospital.
As far as preventing contact with coyotes or rattlesnakes, there's
only so much animal services can do. Even though coyotes are a known
danger, there's no effective way to catch them. Coyotes are quick,
and if they don't want to be caught, they're not going to be caught,
When responding to snake calls, Pietarila will attempt to catch
the snake using long tongs and a cage. The snakes are then taken out
into the canyon to be released. Pietarila will often wait 24 hours to
release a snake because it is too angry right after it's been caught.
Pietarila said there are steps people can take to cope with the
rattlesnake and coyote.
Deterrence is the code when it comes to coyotes. If an experience
at a certain location is unpleasant, the coyote is not likely to
return, Pietarila said. He advises people to make a "rattle can" by
inserting pennies into an empty soda can.
Pietarila said throwing the can at the coyote will entice it to
leave. If that doesn't work, use an air horn, he said.