How to Protect the SouthCoast’s Beloved Small Dogs From Hawks
We got Luna the Cockapoo on April 17, 2020. Our quarantine puppy weighed less than 10 pounds soaking wet and hasn’t gained much weight since then. Since she is such a small dog, we have a new set of concerns with her that we never worried about with our larger breeds in the past. One fear is that a hawk will swoop down and grab her like in that scene from The Proposal.
It’s funny how something I’ve never paid much attention to before is now something I consider on a regular basis. Part of me thinks I’m overreacting, but then I remember stories like the one from East Freetown back in April of 2018 when a hawk picked up a 10-year-old Bichon Frise and the owner found her in the backyard covered in blood. There was also a cat picked up in Fairhaven at the beginning of this year.
Jacqueline Smaldone of Dartmouth had a close encounter that scared her and the dogs.
“This was definitely something I never encountered before, but always mindful of with a small dog,” said Smaldone. “My little one is seven pounds and we were playing fetch at Dartmouth High School. We took a small break to cool off in a shaded area and I was looking on my phone with both dogs next to me. I heard a flapping noise and I thought someone was running near us. I turned around and there was a hawk or vulture-type looking bird about a foot away from my dog. My first instinct was to hit it with the chuck-it stick and it flew up and circled us for a moment. At that point, I grabbed both of my dogs’ leashes and it flew further away. We left right after.”
While it does not occur often, it is not unheard of. According to the Dartmouth Animal Control Officer, hawks are a real threat to small pets. Stacey Rebelo commented on the danger.
“Hawks go after small rodents like rats and squirrels,” said Rebelo. “To them, a small lap dog looks like typical prey from that high up in the air. So, it could absolutely go after a pet under 10 or even 12 pounds.”
Rebelo offered advice to help protect petite dogs, puppies, or any small pet that could resemble a normal menu item for large birds.
“If you’re close enough to your pet, a hawk shouldn’t try to go after it,” said Rebelo. “I would definitely stay outside with it on a leash. Keep it close to you and keep an eye out. If you’re seeing those things flying around, make sure your presence is known to scare them off.”
That suggestion should be applied to all wildlife. If you know of foxes, coyotes, or other lingering predators, make noise to let them know that there are humans in the area.
“They’re more afraid of you and will likely stay away from your pets if they know that you are there,” said Rebelo.
Rebelo also notes that you should not leave any food or garbage hanging around to attract wildlife to your home. Keep things as tidy and sanitary as possible.