Karen B. London
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Chihuahua Survives Owl Attack
His winter coat may have saved him
Chico is well-dressed for any occasion.

Chico the Chihuahua survived an attack by a great horned owl. In one sense, he was very lucky because a four-pound dog is easy prey for large owls that are capable of killing and eating much larger animals, such as skunks and raccoons. On the other hand, Chico was unlucky, because owls are usually deterred from attacking small dogs by the frightening presence of a human, and Chico’s guardian was right there with him during the attack.

George Kalomiris was walking Chico on leash when the owl swooped down and attempted to grab Chico. Kalomiris reports that he yelled and lunged at the owl, which had gotten tangled in Chico’s leash. After a few seconds, the owl flew off—without Chico.
Chico was treated by a veterinarian for a puncture wound that was, remarkably, enough, superficial. In all likelihood, the winter coat that Chico was wearing saved his life. It prevented the owl from getting a good grip on the dog. George’s wife Dana said, “Now I feel vindicated for buying dog clothes.”
Have you had a dog who was threatened or injured by a wild animal?



Karen B. London, PhD, is a Bark columnist and a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist specializing in the evaluation and treatment of serious behavior problems in the domestic dog.

Photo by Lauren M. Anderson of Northwest Herald.

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Submitted by Tegan | January 20 2011 |

My aunty had a litter of puppies in which one puppy had it's eye ripped out by a crow. :( The puppy was developed blindness in the other eye, and had a brain injury as a result, and was put to sleep at about 18 months from these ongoing issues. This injury happened when the puppy was about 5 weeks old. As a result I'm very cautious with my litter of puppies!

Submitted by Lorraine | January 23 2011 |

Luckily, my 2 Chihuahuas have not had this experience, but having lived in NM, and now in rural TN, I've often seen hawks and even Golden eagles (in NM) cruising overhead, and chased a large hawk from one of my trees a few wks ago.

I have always made it a habit to try to supervise their time spent running loose on our property, but hearing that an owl was bold enough to attack with a human present is very troubling. That poor owl must have been very hungry to take that huge risk!

Submitted by Heart broken yo... | January 24 2011 |

We let our 2 yorkies out in the backyard last thursday around 6pm. We had a fresh snow fall the night before and school was out for our kids. One of our yorkies came to the back door and for some reason I felt as though something had happen to our other yorkie, Gibson. We have a green belt behind our house and Gibson had gone under the gate into the greenbelt area. We looked for him for hours. We were able to follow tracks because of the snow. Gibson's tracks went along the back fence and just stopped like something just picked him up. We didn't want to believe he was gone. We searched everywhere and found no signs of him or any blood. We do have owls and hawks in our area. And the way our dogs tracks ended we believe he was snatched up. We are heartbroken as our sweet 5 lb dog brought so much comfort and joy in our lives through difficult life issues. We have lived in this area for 15 years and never knew something like this could happen. We are watching our other dog very closely when he goes out. I just want other small dog owners to be aware! From Broken Arrow Oklahoma

Submitted by Karen London | January 25 2011 |

I am very sad that Gibson is gone and you have my sympathy. It's heartbreaking to lose a dog under any circumstances, and especially so unexpectedly. Thank you for sharing your story. It's obvious that Gibson lived a life filled with a lot of love. Take good care.

Submitted by Anonymous | February 5 2011 |

Um, the chihuahua wasn't harmed, just to let you know...

Submitted by Jill | January 26 2011 |

I once let my Chihuahua/terrier mix outside in the back yard to do her business, as i watched from 30 feet away a Coopers Hawk came down with legs and claws fully extended and got just about foot from her back when it flew away, I guess it figured out that my dog was a bit to big for her to carry but it scared me I never thought that that could happen to my dog thank god it was only a coppers Hawk they are not a big hawk or my dog would have been gone.

Submitted by Misty's Mom | January 27 2011 |

When I was a kid we always had a cat around the farm to keep rodent populations down, but I don't think we ever had a cat last more than a year and a half or so. The eagles were very efficient hunters. The neighbor saw a Bald Eagle take one of their cats one day, and I once saw a Great Horned Owl come within a claw's width of snatching one of ours. Then, of course, there's the coyotes.

I honestly don't understand people who have small dogs and let them out unsupervised. I guess it's a matter of not understanding the possibility--but I do look at them and think to myself that they're hawk/eagle/owl/coyote bait.

Submitted by janie downs | January 17 2013 |

I am so happy to hear your dog was not taken...I had my baby girl 6 lb chiwawa terrier mix taken by an horned owl on dec 20 2012 it still haunts me..and my heart aches I never crossed mind birds of prey. So happy you dog was spared.

Submitted by Yorkie lover | February 4 2013 |

I have a 5 lb Yorkie who just barely survived an owl attack in Maryland on Jan. 18, 2013. She wandered into the neighbors yard, and the open field just beyond. Before my pet sitter could get to her, she was swooped up by a huge owl. My little Yorkie put up such a fight, the owl must have lost its grip, and dropped her from about 8 feet. Unfortunately she ended up with 2 lung punctures, 5 broken ribs and other bruises. This does have a happy ending -- in large part because of the astute 24 hr-emergency veterinarian who found both lung punctures and surgically repaired them. So my sweet little dog is on her way to recovery. But it could have easily gone the other way.

This danger is real, and I am alarmed to see several others having experiences or near misses with birds of prey. I just read an article suggesting at a minimum, owner supervision at all times our small dogs are outdoors, and/or providing cover such as a caged-in run or roofed shelter when small pets are outdoors.

Submitted by Leigh | July 2 2013 |

the other night around 10 pm i let my dogs out to pee it the darkness my small dog was yelping and crying, i ran to the back to see and both the little dog and the big dog where coming towards me. The little one was bleeding with a large hole in her back end and to other scratch marks and limping, 2 days later her whole stomach was bruised not sure what got her thinking it was an owl.......

Submitted by Christine Quenn... | July 12 2014 |

I was hoping to post this on my facebook page. My sisters chihuahua was attacked by an owl this morning. he has 2 broken ribs and a couple of punctures. only lost little air. She just needs to know what to do.

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