OSSINING, N.Y. -- Normally gunfire is nothing you’d like to hear in your neighborhood, but for certain Ossining residents, the sound of shots were more than welcome.
For three days this week, folks who live in the gated community of Mystic Pointe off Route 9 nervously awaited the all-clear while animal control officers and a wildlife trapper searched for an apparently rabid coyote that had confronted several people out walking their dogs.
Two of the dog walkers were bitten by the animal, which was believed to be rabid. Another person, who lives on North Water Street, less than 2 miles away, also reported being confronted.
Jim Horton, of Quality Pro Pest & Wildlife Services in Tarrytown, was called in Tuesday to set traps. When he went to check one early Wednesday, the wild dog ran out of the woods and lunged at him. He called police, who shot at the animal, but it got away.
Then police got a call early Thursday from someone at Eagle Bay, a nearby condominium complex where a lot of senior citizens live.
Officers who were already in the area -- “proactively” -- raced to the scene, cornered the canine in the woods and quickly dispatched it, said Ossining police Chief Kevin Slyvester.
Carrie Rattle, president of the Mystic Pointe Homeowners Association, who heard the shots, said Wednesday that “the entire community is relieved.”
“For three days, people were almost afraid to come out,” she said.
Rattle said that about 20 minutes after the officers entered the wooded ravine, the animal’s body was brought out.
“It was clearly sick,” Rattle said. “At this time of year, the coyotes look all nice and fluffy. This one was all mangy and very thin.”
“It's never a happy day when we have to destroy an animal but in rare instances it is necessary for the health and safety of our residents,” said Ossining police in a statement. “It's a responsibility we take seriously."
Horton had said he was almost positive that the coyote was rabid, based on its appearance and aggressive behavior.
The animal’s body was taken to the Westchester County Department of Health for testing.
The two people who were bitten had to have stitches and are getting shots as part of the rabies protocol. Their pets are being treated by veterinarians.
Sylvester said that there is no indication that other wild animals in the area may have rabies.
No dead bodies have been found and there have been no reports of animals, such as raccoons or skunks, acting strangely, the chief said.
Nevertheless, Sylvester said, residents are being advised to exercise “ordinary caution” especially when out walking their dogs. As per local law, anyway, he said, all dogs need to be kept on a leash.
“It’s been a little nerve-racking,” Rattle said, adding: “but when we all woke this morning and realized that no one else had been bitten, that was a good start to the day.”