It is not every day that you walk into the workplace and find that a coyote is trailing behind you.
This is the situation that spine surgeon Dr. Steve Poletti found himself in last week. He thought it was just another day at his practice in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, and he had no reason to look behind his back.
A video footage proved otherwise.
Not So Business As Usual
“I was just walking into work minding my own business,” said Poletti, recalling that he eventually found the animal right behind him inside the building.
It brushed by his leg and disproved his early thoughts that it was simply a dog. “It kind of bared its teeth and started growling, and right then I knew it was a coyote,” he added.
The surveillance video revealed that the doctor walked through the door while the animal swiftly made its way in. With both of them enclosed in a small 10-by-10-foot stairwell space, Poletti shook his keys to scare the creature before he ran out of the building.
Outside, he was chased by the coyote for around 10 feet when it got distracted by a squirrel and eventually ran off.
“I was just shocked because the office isn’t in a rural or forest area,” Poletti said in an ABC News report, although he is familiar with the sight and howls of coyotes in the beach island town where he lives or around 3 miles away from his workplace.
His office, the Southeastern Spine Institute, is situated in a residential and commercial area, with a school located close by.
Poletti reported the incident to the police and was offered to have officers set up a trap in an attempt to capture the animal.
The Matter Of Coyote Attack
In Mount Pleasant, coyote sightings have become quite common that the town has set a management plan in place. But even wildlife specialists find it rare for a coyote to follow someone into his office.
“Maybe it was just looking for food,” speculated wildlife control specialist Nathan Agee of Animal Pros, adding that in the rare event that it was a cross between a dog and a coyote, it could simply be lost and trying to find a place for getting away.
The Humane Society noted that coyotes are generally nocturnal and are seldom seen. Their natural behavior, too, dictates that they will likely be scared away by human presence.
Coyote attacks are deemed very rare and can be prevented through changing human attitudes and educating people about how to prevent habituation. In many incidents, the offending coyote was discovered being fed by people, or humans were trying to rescue their pet from an attack.
In both the United States and Canada, there have only been two documented incidents of coyote killing, namely one involving a child in South California in the 1980s and the other with a 19-year-old female in Nova Scotia in 2009.
A coyote that has bitten a person will likely be removed from the populations, and most health departments will test for rabies. Through recent advances in rabies control, an oral bait is used to immunize the wild animal without the need for capturing it.