ATLANTA -- The bravery of a family pet was met with a vicious attack. Now authorities are warning the public of the coyotes that could be hiding nearby.
Shannon Dawson said her Jack Russell Terrier was protecting their home when the 11-year-old dog was attacked by a coyote in the family’s driveway.
“I opened the door and I heard a horrific noise. Not like a howl but a really loud noise. I don't know what it was," she said.
She said she rushed outside and found a coyote attacking her dog in the driveway of her Sandy Springs home. Now, with warmer weather, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources reports coyote sightings are expected to rise.
Dawson said she had just moved back from Florida. But when she lived in Georgia before, coyotes were not a concern. Now she's just glad her dog Lucy is still alive after being viciously attacked.
Dawson said that minutes after letting her dogs out, she ran onto the porch of her Sandy Springs home.
"Right at the white part of the driveway, at night it is lit up," Dawson said. "Motion sensors, motion lights - it was very stoic, it was still and backing away from the dog."
She was just in time to see a large coyote backing away from Lucy.
"She was full of blood, she was really full of blood," Dawson said. "I took her to the hospital and she's been - she was in intensive care for 3 days."
Veterinarians found 42 puncture wounds from bites, three broken ribs, and damage near one of Lucy's lung. They were surprised she was alive.
"Thankfully, none of her major organs were terribly harmed, so she was very lucky," Dawson said.
PHOTOS: Dog attacked by coyote
It's a miracle considering reports from other dog owners who said they have death with coyote attacks that ended tragically. In February, 11Alive spoke with a Marietta couple who believe a coyote attacked and killed their 6-year-old Jack Russell terrier - also called Lucy.
"It was the most horrific thing I've ever seen in my entire life," they said.
And sightings in the heart of Atlanta have occurred as well. A video of a coyote spotted near Piedmont Park was posted in December.
"I'm just wondering where they're coming from and is it all the development that is pushing them out," Dawson said.
Now Lucy is back home alongside her brother Cooper. Dawson said she is thankful.
"I didn't know there were coyotes here. When we lived in Atlanta a few years ago we've seen deer, bunnies," she said. "I never saw a coyote and I didn't know this was happening."
But now she is aware - and changing her routine.
"We walk both of them on leashes, my daughter and I," she said. "And they aren't allowed out at night."
The DNR suggests exactly that: coyotes don't know the difference between a wild animal and a pet. So experts suggest bringing your pets in at night or putting up fencing if they must be outside at night.