GRAPHIC: A coyote took the family’s dog, but the family isn’t allowed to build a high fence

GRAPHIC: A coyote took the family’s dog, but the family isn’t allowed to build a high fence
Bella, a 12-year-old miniature pinscher, was taken out of the family's backyard by a coyote and killed last week. (Source: Family photo/KOLO/Gray News)

SPARKS, Nev. (KOLO/Gray News) - A homeowner is looking for solutions after his dog, Bella, was lost to a coyote, KOLO reported.

Bill Green, his wife and their four small dogs moved into their home in the Wingfield Hills area of Spanish Springs about a year ago.

WARNING: The details in this story may be disturbing to some readers.

Green works at home, and when he came downstairs one day last week at about noon, one of his dogs - Bella, a 12-year-old miniature pinscher - wanted out in the backyard.

Minutes later, he went to call her and discovered she was gone.

He got on his bike and went looking along the concrete path that winds past his and other backyards to a natural area. There, he encountered a large coyote holding something in its mouth.

“And I chased it, and when he dropped it on the concrete pathway, it was the front half of Bella,” Green said.

Any pet owner can appreciate his feeling of shock and horror.

“We have no kids. She was our child,” he said.

Grief is giving way to frustration.

In the Wingfield Hills neighborhood, well-kept homes and manicured yards are a standard enforced by a homeowner’s association.

Stout fences provide privacy and security, and the same fencing is seen on the sides of Green’s backyard.

At the back, there are only iron bars topped by a wooden two by two, barely 42 inches tall. It’s easy for an intruder, animal or otherwise, to see through, and tragically for Bill and his wife, an easy leap for a coyote.

Ask the Department of Wildlife how to protect your pets from coyotes, and the first thing they will suggest is a fence at least 6 feet tall.

But Green’s not allowed to build anything more substantial than the 42-inch-tall fence because his backyard faces a common area, really just that concrete pathway, a drainage ditch, a few trees and bare dirt.

“It was kind of a nice thing being able to see the beauty of the neighborhood, but within a week, I realized how many coyotes were moving through at night,” Green said.

The homeowner’s association said that low fence is a city requirement.

That’s not quite true. The fencing is called view fencing and was included in the design submitted by the original developer and approved by the city.

“The master developer presented the handbook to us, and we approved that handbook,” explained Sparks city spokeswoman Julie Duewel.

It’s not a city requirement, she explained.

“No, it’s a master plan from the master plan from the master developer,” Duewel said.

It’s unlikely those who wrote that handbook and envisioned the so-called common area ever considered coyotes as part of the plan. The good news is it can be changed.

“But it can’t be just one person coming forward. We need a consensus that this is what they’d like to do,” Green said.

With reports of other pets disappearing, that may happen.

“My heart goes out to anyone who’s lost a pet like this,” Green said, “but I never want to see what I saw again.”

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