In their 30 years of living in Mission Viejo, Erin and David Macaluso say, they had never once seen a coyote enter their backyard.
That all changed the night of May 1.
The retired couple had taken their two dogs, Vinny and Harley, out into the yard one last time before calling it a night. The pair had just re-entered the house and were in the kitchen when something happened.
“All of a sudden, we heard this bloodcurdling scream,” Erin said. “We thought it was coming from the television.”
Realizing the yelp was coming from outside, David rushed out with a flashlight. Harley ran into the kitchen, where Erin found he was bleeding from two puncture wounds.
After they ensured Vinny was back inside, the couple rushed Harley to an emergency veterinary clinic for treatment. While in the waiting room, they reviewed their home security surveillance footage and saw a coyote had hopped the fence.
“We didn’t know until that moment,” Erin said.
The video showed a coyote dropping down into their backyard, Harley rushing out to see what was happening, the coyote attacking Harley, Vinny running over to fend off the intruder, and the coyote running away.
“The whole attack was 10 seconds,” David said.
The couple were not shocked to see 10-pound Vinny face off with the much larger coyote.
“We’ve always known that Vinny was fearless to some degree because of his temperament,” Erin said.
Vinny, 11, is a Maltese-dachshund rescue adopted from Emerald City Pet Rescue and named after the protagonist from the film “My Cousin Vinny.” Harley, 5, is a Maltese-Yorkie mix who is louder and more easily frightened than Vinny.
“They’ll work in tandem,” Erin said. “Harley is the alerter, and Vinny is the enforcer.”
Erin and David maintain that if it weren’t for Vinny’s intervention, Harley would have been killed by the coyote. The two now urge all pet owners in Mission Viejo and other areas with coyotes to be mindful of letting their dogs out at night.