Kristin Simkins regularly walks four large dogs along trails in the Aberdeen neighbourhood of Kamloops, B.C., but she says there was nothing regular about last Thursday's walk.
Simkins, who was accompanied by a Labrador and three coonhounds, was coming to the end of her walk behind Howe Road near the home of her friend Shantelle Cooper who owns two of the dogs Simkins had with her.
The plan was for an uneventful trek before dropping the dogs off at Coopers, when suddenly Simkin's felt something was strange.
"The dogs seemed not themselves and I could sense that something was wrong," she said Monday on Daybreak South, adding two of the dogs started profusely barking and then suddenly bolted away.
Simkins said after repeat calling, one of the dogs did return — trailed by two coyotes.
"I could tell that they were not approaching to be friendly. They were on a mission. I felt like they were hungry," she said.
Simkins said she yelled at the pair of coyotes and one bared its teeth at her but, nevertheless, she ran to collect and control the loose dogs while also trying to phone Cooper for help.
Calls for backup
Cooper, who lives within earshot of the trails with her husband Jordan Foster, said she got an emergency text without any context and just took off running where she figured Simkins might be, knowing she was on her way to Cooper's home and having spoken to her not long prior.
She said she followed Simkins' screams to the scene.
"It was a life or death type of scream," said Cooper, who said, when she found Simkins, she had two dogs with her, but two were still loose. One she found off the trail surrounded by coyotes.
"I ran as fast as i could through this thick brush ... and ended up getting in there and kicking the coyotes as hard as I could to get them away from the dog," said Cooper, adding the coyotes started biting her while she was in the melee.
Somehow, Cooper says, she managed to get a phone call out to Foster, who she said could tell something was wrong but did not know what, and he too instinctively ran into the wooded area that backs onto the couple's property.
Cooper said her husband managed to back the pack off by screaming, but then one of the dogs broke away and ran after the retreating coyotes. Foster followed.
"At that point I just collapsed and started crying," said Cooper, who said she assumed her dog's death was imminent.
But Foster was able to grab the dog away from what Simkins said had by then grown to a pack of six coyotes. The group managed to make it safely to Foster and Cooper's home, even as they could hear the pack still pursuing from behind.
No dogs or dog owners were critically hurt, but Simkin's chocolate Lab was wounded on his leg, one of the Foster-Cooper's dogs was bit on the nose, and Cooper herself was bitten on her leg.
Simkins says she wants people to be aware of what happened especially, she said, because she often sees families with young children walking in the area.
Vanessa Isnardy with Wildsafe B.C., said Simkins and company were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
She said the aggressive behaviour is likely, because young coyote pups are starting to search for food themselves near their dens at this time of year and their parents are especially protective.
Isnardy recommends people walking in coyote territory keep their pets leashed, carry bear spray and be knowledgeable of their surroundings.