The coyote dashed through the darkness and in an instant snatched the black and white puppy.
Kari Olson said she never saw her family’s 7-pound Sheltie again.
Olson said she let the 4-month-old pup named Oreo outside to go to the bathroom at 9:30 p.m. last week. She was standing just 10 feet away when the coyote grabbed the dog from the front yard of her Sarpy County home near 198th and Harrison Streets.
It’s the second reported time in the past two months that a coyote has grabbed a dog in the area. In July, a coyote snatched a family’s 4-pound Yorkie from the yard of an acreage west of Lincoln.
Both homes are in newly developed or near rural areas, where coyotes are more likely to be seen.
The Nebraska Humane Society said it has not received many calls about coyote sightings or about the predators taking pets.
Kelli Brown, the agency’s field operations director, said it’s rare for a coyote to attack a dog, but owners must be vigilant.
She said pets should never be left outside unless they are on a leash or in a fenced area.
Olson said that for a moment she thought the coyote was a dog as it ran from the side of her home and snatched Oreo.
“It just grabbed her and took off,’’ Olson said. “It was just a blink. You’re like, ‘What the heck was that?’ ”
The coyote ignored the family’s full-grown, 30-pound Sheltie standing next to Oreo.
Olson said she heard yelps from the puppy as the coyote ran off with her through an empty lot across the street and into a ravine.
She said she and her family searched the ravine and surrounding area with flashlights. A Sarpy County sheriff’s deputy helped them look for the dog.
The searchers saw no signs of the pet initially, but later noticed a trail of blood along a paved walking path near the ravine.
She said the loss of their pet was traumatic for her family, and her children were in tears.
Olson called the Humane Society the next day and the agency set up a live trap for the coyote, baited with meat in the family’s yard. So far a coyote has not been caught.
Olson said that her family misses Oreo and that she’s learned a lesson: Never let a dog out without having it on a leash.
Sam Wilson, a wildlife biologist with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, said there have not been any recent problems with coyotes’ normal food supply of rodents, rabbits and ground-nesting birds that would cause the predators to go after pets.
He said that statewide the coyote population has been steady.
He said there was evidence in the early 2000s that mange killed off some coyotes in parts of southeast Nebraska. It appears that the population may have rebounded in recent years, he said. So if people are noticing more coyotes, that rebounding population could be a reason, he said.
Wilson said coyotes usually weigh 30 pounds and are common in Nebraska; they’re most likely to be seen in rural areas or in newly developed areas near creeks, fields and similar habitats.
There are fields near Olson’s home, which was built in 2012 and is about 5 miles from the Elkhorn River.
There have been other incidents in the region this year involving coyotes, including one in Hastings in July, when a 1-year-old boy was bitten by a coyote.
In March, south of the Millard area, a badly injured coyote was rescued after it was found hanging from a fence it was caught in.
Brown, of the Humane Society, said residential expansion means that coyotes must learn to adapt.
“These guys are forced to learn to live in these areas,’’ she said.