Burnaby residents may want to keep their small dogs on short leashes while owls are busy hunting and fattening up for the coming winter.
Adam Schlombs contacted the NOW to report a recent owl attack on his girlfriend near Cameron Street in Burnaby.
"Every evening we take our three little Chihuahuas for a walk around the paved walkway," he wrote. "However, last night my girlfriend was walking the pathway when an owl swooped out of the trees and nearly nabbed one of the dogs."
According to Schlombs, his girlfriend moved to a more well-lit area, but the owl dove again, narrowly missing her and the dogs.
Crystal Simmons, who runs the hotline at the Burnaby-based Wildlife Rescue Association of B.C., said it's common this time of year and in spring.
"We do get calls where they will attack people," she said.
According to Simmons, an owl can mistake a jogger's ponytail for a squirrel's tail. Small pets may also appeal to owls, who are in hunting mode, preparing for winter at a time when food is scarce.
"I think people should be careful. It's not just owls. Coyotes - exact same thing - coyotes are getting ready for winter," she said.
Small dogs, cats or rabbits could become prey for owls, eagles or coyotes.
"Keep animals close, always keep them on a leash," Simmons said.
When asked if there are any areas in Burnaby where owls congregate, Simmons said they are everywhere, even in downtown Vancouver. A lot of people wouldn't normally see owls, but with winter coming and the leaves falling off branches, they are easier to spot, she added.
Simmons said she has received calls, where upset people reported that owls made off with small pets.
"(They are) hunting, it's a natural behaviour. They don't know the difference between a pet and a wild animal," she said. "It's not just particularly this time of year. ... It could happen any time of the year."
Simmons also got a call from a woman who had a dog on an extension leash, and an eagle swooped down and took it.
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