CHAPEL HILL – Orange County Animal Services is warning pet owners about several cases involving injured, killed or missing pets. Two of the incidents are believed to be the result of wildlife attacks on pets, possibly coyotes.

“In both of these situations, the dogs died. One dog apparently died of an attack from another animal. In the other situation, the dog was apparently very seriously injured as a result of attacks from other animals,” said Bob Marotto, Director Orange County Animal Services.

The first dog death was believed to have occurred as a result of a wildlife attack, but Animal Services couldn’t make an absolute determination because of a lack of communication with the dog’s owner. He cannot confirm that either of the attacks were from coyotes, but Animal Services is not ruling out the possibility.

In 2013, there were complaints about coyotes following people in southern Orange County, though Marotto said there haven’t been any attacks on animals or humans reported recently.

“I would really underscore that because we don’t want to fuel the sense on the part of people that anything has changed with coyotes,” he said.

If your pets have sustained injuries of an unknown origin or have disappeared from a setting that could potentially involve wildlife, Maratto said it is imperative to contact Animal Services immediately. Reporting these incidents allows the department to track and collect data regarding possible wildlife attacks.

“We can assess these situations to assure that people are doing what it is that needs to be done and to avert any unwanted contact with wildlife and to be able to co-exist.”

Marotto said these recent attacks also show the importance of vaccinating your pet against rabies.

Rabies is typically transmitted from the bite of a rabies-infected animal.  Raccoons and bats are the main carriers of rabies in the mid-Atlantic states, but coyotes can also be carriers. Any physical contact with raccoons or bats should be reported to Animal Services, Marotto explained.

To report a physical encounter between a pet and a wild animal or between a person and a wild animal, you can call 919.942.7387.

For questions about a potential human exposure, contact a communicable disease nurse at the Orange County Health Department at 919.245.2400.

For more information about wildlife, please visit the Animal Services website.