ISLE OF PALMS — A routine walk on the beach has left a dog with stitches in five different places.
Coyotes were the culprits.
And now the dog's owners want to bring awareness to the coyote problem in the Charleston area, especially since tourist season is already underway.
Karen Britton of Mount Pleasant said she and her dog Lula were out for a morning walk on the beach last week when the pup was attacked by four coyotes in the sand dunes.
Britton said at the time of the incident, she was picking up after the dog. When she stood back up, Lula was not in sight. She figured the dog must have walked up toward the dunes. Isle of Palms permits dogs to be on the beach without a leash 5-9 a.m. during the spring and summer months.
When Lula didn't answer her call, Britton went up to the dunes and saw the coyotes attacking her. It all happened within a minute.
"One had her on each hind leg, one had her by the throat, and one was about to rip her stomach open," said Chip Britton, Karen's husband.
When Britton approached the area, she said she thinks she scared the coyotes because they quickly went away.
"And she (Lula) got up and came to me," Britton said. "She's a strong little dog."
But the 2-year-old Boykin Spaniel will need some time to recover.
She had to get stitches in her head, neck and three other places where she was bitten. Britton said they even thought the dog would need to have stomach surgery because of a bad bite in that area.
This isn't the first report of coyote attacks in the Charleston area. Earlier this year, a Mount Pleasant man said coyotes were to blame for the death of two of his cats in the fenced Sandpiper Pointe II neighborhood.
And an Isle of Palms resident reported on the social media app Next Door that he and his wife heard a pack of coyotes "shredding" someone's pet on 31st Avenue last week.
Britton said when she reported the incident, an animal control worker told her there is a den of coyotes at 24th Avenue.
"It seems like they would at least put up some signs that would warn people about the coyotes," Britton said.
She said she would also like to see the city trap the coyotes if they know where they are.
On April 20, an Isle of Palms Police Department staffer said the officers have not confirmed that coyotes attacked a dog.
The S.C. Department of Natural Resources has called on hunters to help control the coyote population throughout the state, and deer hunters are encouraged to shoot any they may see while hunting.
But municipalities and counties may have different rules and methods for controlling the animals.
According to DNR, no hunting license or permit is required for people to shoot coyotes on their property within 100 yards of the home. Night hunting is permitted on registered properties or with a depredation permit.
Trapped coyotes may not be relocated.
The predators have a presence in each of the state's counties and are extremely adaptable. They are detrimental to deer, turkey and other native species that are important in South Carolina.