An Edmonton woman is traumatized after her 50-kilogram (110-pound) Bernese mountain dog Charlie was “shredded” by coyotes over the weekend.

Shannon Butler was out walking Charlie in a city ravine on Sunday. The dog wasn’t on a leash.

When Charlie ran away and didn’t come back, Butler and her 13-year-old son went searching.

When she found the dog, she says, “he had been shredded.”

“It was a very traumatic scene,” she told CTV Edmonton.

City of Edmonton signage in the ravine warns of coyotes and recommends keeping dogs on leashes and cats indoors.

University of Alberta biologists Colleen Cassady St. Clair says that it’s rare for coyotes to injure or kill, but that the circumstances in this case were “somewhat predictable.”

“It’s mating season for coyotes so they would have been acting more territorial than they were just a few weeks ago,” she said.

A 2009 study that looked at nearly five decades of newspaper reports found there have been at least 159 human victims of coyote attacks in the U.S. and Canada, with about half involving children.

That year, a 19-year-old Toronto woman was killed by a pack of coyotes on Cape Breton.

Just last month, a Toronto-area woman was walking her dog when a coyote tried to attack her miniature pinscher. A neighbour helped fight it off with a shovel and the incident was captured on security camera footage.

What should you do if you see a coyote?

The City of Edmonton recommends that people reduce the risk of coyote encounters through “aversive conditioning,” which involves making the canines feel uncomfortable around humans. They say to do the following:

  • Respond to its presence aggressively by making yourself appear large (wave your arms overhead or shove long objects like a walking stick toward the coyote).
  • Throw rocks, sticks or other objects to scare it away.
  • Carry a whistle and blow it to startle the animal.
  • Carry dog spray in areas highly frequented by coyotes.
  • Shout in a deep voice and maintain eye contact.
  • Do not turn away or run. This may trigger a natural predator/prey instinct and might encourage the coyote to chase after you.
  • If the coyote continues to approach, back away slowly and move toward buildings or human activity.

With a report from CTV Edmonton’s David Ewasuk