KMOX, Allison Blood

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOX) – Teacup dogs: they’re tiny, adorable and often expensive, but they can also become lunch for birds of prey. Small dogs like Yorkshire Terriers and Chihuahuas are being snatched out of back yards in St. Louis County by Red Tailed Hawks.

But it’s not only hawks that could do this, according to Wayne Boillat, a veterinarian with Chesterfield Veterinary Group. He says this type of thing doesn’t happen often, but as more counties spread into wooded areas, the possibility becomes more likely.

“They won’t move, they’ll adapt,” he said of hawks and other birds of prey. “It’s possible they’ll search for other food sources.”

And your dog could be one of them. Boillat says any dog that weighs less than ten pounds should be watched when it’s outside at any time of the day. At night, owls are a concern as are raccoons, opossums and other dogs. He added that driving into St. Louis, hawks can be seen on traffic signs and telephone polls well into the city, so people in Brentwood and Kirkwood should also beware.

In the few cases Boillat has heard of dogs being attacked by birds, the dog lived. The owner was there, was able to scare off the animal with a pellet gun or a rake, and the dog survived with some scratches. It would be unusual for the bird to kill its prey on site. It would most likely carry it away and wait for it to die later, so owners have the chance to chase off the hungry bird, which is unlikely to then attack the owner. Though any dog is considered to be part of the family, some of these dogs are expensive, well into the range of a few thousand dollars. All things considered, that’s an investment worth protecting.

So there might not be reason to install flood lights on the back of the house or never let Fluffy out to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night again, but for those who see hawks or owls regularly, it’s something to keep in mind.

(KMOX © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. )

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