Wildlife sightings located in close proximity to homeowners are on the rise in California, and pet owners are urged to take extra precautions to protect their dogs from possible attacks, according to the California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA).
“Drier conditions, fire devastation and increased activity this summer have combined to drive animals out of the hills and into populated areas in search of food and water,” says CVMA President Dr. Jeff Smith.
Recent reports of wildlife activity include mountain lions that have attacked small pets near Los Angeles and Sacramento, a mountain lion attack on a hiker in northwest California, aggressive bears in the Lake Tahoe area, and male deer attacking dogs.
“As residential areas expand, wild deer become more accustomed to and less fearful of people,” Smith says. “When someone gets too close, a buck could panic and gore them, causing serious injury or even death.”
The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) receives hundreds of reports each year of mountain lions killing pets and livestock, and it’s becoming more common as people move into the mountain lions’ habitat, the DFG states.
The CVMA offers these suggestions to keep dogs safe:
- Never leave dogs outside unattended.
- Don’t feed wildlife.
- Avoid landscaping that includes plants that deer like to eat.
- Don’t leave pet food outside.
- Don’t approach a wild animal.
- Use sealed trash cans.
- Don’t try to heal sick or injured wild animals – call a veterinarian, animal control, or the DFG for assistance.
“People have a natural affinity for animals, but it’s important they understand the difference between domesticated pets and wildlife that appear to be friendly and approachable,” Smith adds. “Under no circumstance should people take action and put their lives at risk in the event of a visit by a wild animal.”