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Family Dog Killed By Coyote

Jennifer Smith

Posted on November 30 2018

A family's small pet dog was dragged off by a "wild animal" and killed early Monday morning while outside its Randolph home.

"I saw something like a silhouette, I don't know if it was a coyote or a fox," said Seth Elgart, who said he looked on in horror from the front door as his 13-pound, 4-year-old Havanese Zoey was dragged off.

Elgart woke up at 2 a.m. to let Zoey out. While outside, "something caught her attention, which happens a lot. She just started barking and it just snatched her," he said.

Standing at his front door on the dark night, he said he heard what "sounded like a fight, but within 5 seconds, this animal was running away with her in its mouth," he said. "I heard screeches and screaming."

Elgart said he quickly put on his slippers to go after Zoey, hoping to quickly break up the fight on his quiet cul-de-sac. 

"But all I could do is hear," he said. "There are no street lights on my street. It was pitch-black. As soon as they got away from that immediate area, I couldn't see anything."

Elgart said he woke his wife and they called police while their two young children slept. As they waited for police, the couple searched the nearby woods in the Center Grove section where the animals were seen headed.

"I could still hear screaming in the woods, but it was getting farther away," he said. "After that, we couldn't hear anything anymore."

A police officer arrived and searched the area for 20 minutes, but found nothing, Elgart said.

Det. Christopher Giuliani of the Randolph Police Department confirmed the call. "It appears the animal was out hunting, and a small dog would most likely be looked at as prey."

Giuliani added there was no reason to believe the attacking animal was rabid.

The next morning, Randolph Animal Control Officer Erika Barkman led a search in the nearby woods with the Elgarts. They found Zoey's body in a clearing off a path, with deep wounds to the neck but otherwise intact.

"She said it was probably a coyote, but they did not assess the bite or anything like that," Elgart said.

"I have seen foxes here, but I have never seen a coyote," he said. Adding hunters should focus on coyotes, which "could kill a child" rather than peaceful deer. 

The New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife says the state coyote population has increased significantly since 1980. Their presence has been documented in 400 municipalities in all 21 counties, or 94 percent of the state's land area.

Coyotes primarily hunt rodents and rabbits for food, but are known to occasionally attack small pets.

"I have no words to express my feelings at this moment other than how shocked and horrified I am, like no other moment in my life," Elgart posted on Facebook. "Hold and love your pets a little extra tonight in memory of Zoey. Always leash and go out with your dogs especially in the middle of the night in Randolph."

Staff Writer William Westhoven: 973-917-9242;