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Rosslyn ‘Coyote’ Likely Not A Coyote At All

by Aaron Kraut August 3, 2012 at 3:00 pm 29,957 69 Comments

(Updated at 4:05 p.m.) Area wildlife experts are warning area homeowners to keep their pets inside at night after a couple of recent coyote attacks — including an attack at Daniels Run Park in the City of Fairfax on Monday.

Arlington is no stranger to the predatory canines, which have easily adapted to surburban and urban environments across the country. After years of reports of sightings, county naturalists in April confirmed their existence with video from Potomac Overlook Regional Park.

But naturalists are discounting the threat from a coyote-like animal that some residents have caught on camera around the Rosslyn area.

Last week reader Katherine Doty emailed us with a photo of the canine (above), which shows it with a bird in its mouth near the Iwo Jima memorial. Another reader sent in the photos below of what appear to be the same animal around 9:00 a.m. today (Friday) on Route 50 near Rosslyn.

“Some other pedestrians and I think it was a coyote,” the tipster wrote.

The animal, however, is very likely a dog (or a fox) and not a coyote, according to county naturalist Christina Yacobi.

“That is not a coyote,” Yacobi said last week after taking a look at Doty’s photo. “That’s a really long tail for a coyote and coyotes have tails that are really bushy. They looked like they are dipped in ink. And they don’t have that long, pointy snout and those big, giant ears.”

Yacobi said it reminded her of a dog resembling an Ibizan hound or Pharaoh hound that went missing four years ago from a family traveling at Dulles Airport. Yacobi volunteered in the search effort.

Naturalists also say that spotting a coyote out in a populated area in the middle of the day is quite unlikely.

“Coyotes are very good at avoiding people, so residents shouldn’t be overly concerned,” Long Branch Nature Center naturalist Cliff Fairweather said in April. “The key is for residents not to feed them or encourage them not to be afraid of people. The longer they are afraid of people, the better it will be for coyotes and people.”

For a comparison, another shot from this morning near Route 50 and a file photo of a coyote (via Wikipedia) can be found below.


  • Chewie

    It’s a chupacabra!

    • awesomepossum

      This thing is in Washington & Lee Apartments area all the time. I have tons of pics. It looks like a fox with mange to me.

      • Bella Luna

        SAME HERE! I once was walking to my apt and saw this creature. I stopped too scared bc it didn’t look like a cat, nor racoon, which are popular at these apts.

      • find the family

        i have contacted an attorney for the family who lost this dog at the airport. if you see this dog please call the animal welfare league. i am sure the family would LOVE their dog back. thanks

      • NoComment

        Hey, awesomepossum, can you share your photos?

      • Shannon P

        Sure could be a fox with mange. Do you have a picture of it next to an object to be able to determine relative size? It would help identify which kind of canine species we’re looking at here.

    • Tabby_TwoTone

      I just logged on to see how long it took for this comment.

    • shannon


  • DarkHeart


    • Oh Yeah

      Exactly what I was thinking

      • DCBuff


        • nom de guerre

          J. Geils Band-featuring Magic Dick?

        • nom de guerre

          My bad-Steve Miller Band-same time period. Too many bong hits….

          • Tabby_TwoTone

            I wanna reach out and grab ya.

      • Wiki

        from chupar “to suck” and cabra “goat”, literally “goat sucker”

        weird, man.

  • m

    Dingo’s got ur baby!

  • find the family

    so is anyone trying to find the family who lost this dog. i am sure they would want their dog back no matter how long it has been.

    • Grace

      I was wondering the same thing. Let’s hope so and maybe the author could follow up with Yacobi to see if the dog is one that was missing.

  • SomeGuy

    Aaron Kraut, I know (or at least I’m pretty sure) you’re a new author here, and I find your articles to be very detailed and well-written.

    I just wanted to compliment you on that.

  • YaYa S.H.
    • We’ve added “or a fox” after “very likely a dog” to reflect this.

  • 12Bears

    Fox with advanced mange. A bit unusual to see out and about during the day.

  • Laurie Rains

    Owners Put Life on Hold For Lost Dog

    Jeddah, who was to accompany John Weisner to Saudi Arabia, was reported missing from Dulles International Airport. (Family Photo)
    Network News

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    By Kameel Stanley
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Friday, July 18, 2008
    John Weisner, a U.S. Army soldier on his way to a year-long assignment in Saudi Arabia, learned that his dog, Jeddah, was missing 15 minutes before he was scheduled to board a plane last week at Dulles International Airport.

    Owners Put Life on Hold For Lost Dog
    Search for Missing Dog Soldiers On After a Month
    Help Find Jeddah
    View All Items in This Story
    Jeddah, a 4-year-old tan and white rescue dog who resembles an Ibizan hound or Pharaoh hound, was supposed to make the July 10 flight with Weisner, but a United Airlines employee told him that Jeddah was missing from her airline-issued kennel.

    Weisner and his wife, Ronia, who drove to the airport with Jeddah from their North Carolina home, have been in the Washington area ever since. Ronia Weisner, who was on her way home after dropping off her husband and their dog, headed back to Dulles after she heard the news. The couple said they could not leave the area without Jeddah.

    “She’s our baby,” said Weisner, who has always fed her food that people eat. “She doesn’t even know what dog food is. Hopefully, her instinct takes over.”

    The couple’s search for Jeddah has touched strangers throughout the region. Hearing about their plight through the media and on the couple’s “Help Find Jeddah” Web site, volunteers have posted hundreds of fliers in and around the airport, Dulles employees have spent hours canvassing the airport’s nearly 12,000 acres, and a Reston neighborhood was searched after someone thought he saw the dog.

    The Weisners have put up a $2,500 reward, which United Airlines agreed to match. Animal shelters in Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties are on the lookout. And a growing number of people around the world are monitoring the progress of the search on the Weisners’ Web site ( http://www.helpfindjeddah.com ).

    “We don’t know at this point how she got out,” United Airlines spokeswoman Robin Urbanski said yesterday. “It’s unfortunate, and it’s very rare.”

    Jeddah, who weighs 55 pounds, went missing about 9:30 p.m. July 10, about an hour after the Weisners checked her through security. When the couple arrived at the airport, they were told the kennel they brought for Jeddah could not go on the plane, and she would be placed in an airline-issued kennel.

    The airline has made a strong effort to find Jeddah, including searching until 1 a.m. after she disappeared, Urbanski said. “It’s an ongoing and cooperative effort,” she said. “We are absolutely doing everything we can to help with the search.”

    Kate Bland, 44, of Lovettsville, who does not know the couple, heard about Jeddah on Monday and wanted to help.

    “The thought of being in a strange town and having something tragic happen to you,” Bland said of the Weisners, who are staying in a hotel. “I am not doing anything for them I wouldn’t want anyone to do” for me.

    Bland, who works in marketing for a technology company in Arlington County, persuaded Balmar Inc. of Falls Church to print hundreds of fliers. She persuaded Matrix Group International of Alexandria to design the Web site.

    Since the Web site was established, tips and e-mails have poured in from areas near the airport. A Reston woman said she thought she saw Jeddah during a storm earlier this week. A Reston man said he thought he saw the dog running through his back yard.

    Weisner said he was doubtful one person would be able to catch Jeddah, who can be skittish and has the speed of a Greyhound. He is also not sure how much longer he can stay in the Washington area and search for his dog.

    “It’s just a tragedy, and it’s such a shame it happened to someone who is serving all of us,” Bland said.

    • SomeGuy

      A link to the article would have sufficed.

      • 12Bears

        Funny how it’s already linked in the post, isn’t it? I mean, I don’t know about you but I had no idea what those different colored words me on the web!

      • nunya


    • Grace

      Thanks for the full information. It is definitely not safe to transport animals on airlines. Delta has the worse reputation, I believe. I know the article is not about that, but I just had to take this opportunity to remind of the dangers.

      • Tabby_TwoTone

        Tabs Jr. did OK.

  • South Awwlington

    Sick Fox w/bird.

    If it is mange, it should be put down. He’s gotta be miserable.

  • Elaine

    Maybe a Dingo ate your Ba-by!

  • nom de guerre

    Where is Captain Pup McPuppo when you need him?

    • drax

      He’s over at the Iwo Jima Memorial catching birds, apparently.

      • Tabby_TwoTone


    • CrystalMikey

      *whistles for the Captain*

      • *howls* i’ll get right on tracking this mangy critter down to preserve the health and well-being of our local pets & pet-owners!!! *howls again & darts off into the woods with a look of purpose in my eyes*

  • drax
  • ex-roomie

    Doty you’re famous! Great investigative photography you’ve done.

  • Edgar

    I took a picture of the little guy/gal at the beginning of May.


  • gnushell

    I have seen both foxes and one coyote in my back yard in Westover. We have a bunch of wild bunnies and the hunters show up frequently looking for them.

    • DarkHeart

      Elmer’s in town?

  • Redneck

    That is definitely a red fox with mange.

  • Hattie McDaniel

    “new DNA analysis of coyote poop shows for the first time that some coyotes in the state of Virginia are also part wolf. Scientists think these animals are coyote-wolf hybrids that traveled south from New England along the Appalachian Mountains”


    • DCBuff

      Where wolf?

      • LuvDusty

        There wolf! There castle!

        Why are talking that way?

        I thought you wanted me too…?

        /sorry couldn’t resist.

  • Max

    Hope they don’t get rid of them. There were always foxes out at night around Clarendon – not many but you’d occasionally see them and they stayed far away from you. A few years ago they were removed from the neighborhood because one was suspected of having rabies, and the rabbits came out in full force destroying everyone’s plants. You can’t walk around Lyon Village without seeing one every few feet. They’re cute, no doubt, but they poop everywhere and reproduce at a ridiculously high rate while eating your tomatoes.

  • JFO

    Nice work Doty!!! I saw this creature just last week wandering around Bergmann’s Cleaners and I must say that thing is super ugly, definitely some sort of new coyote/fox/raccoon/possum hybrid, must’ve spawned from the disease-infested Potomac river.

  • picture taker

    Actually, if you google “coyote mange,” you’ll find lots of images of juvenile coyotes that look similar to what’s in the image. He just looks abnormally skinny because he doesn’t have hair. At first, I did think he was a fox, but later was told by two wildlife experts that he could also be a small coyote. Keep in mind that the mange is a real strain on his health.

    And he’s definitely not a dog. I took the photo after following him down the street and witnessing him snatch an unsuspecting mourning dove from beneath a tree. That’s a bird in his mouth, and he was pretty adept at catching it! He looks nothing like the dog breeds mentioned in the article.


  • I saw him at least six months ago at Arlington Cemetary…Definitely looked like a fox with some type of sickness…

  • Newsy Mom

    I’ve seen this creepy animal numerous times in the Alcova Heights neighborhood. I agree – there’s no way it’s a dog! One time I was walking down the street from a neighbors house around 10pm and it came out of the bushes and started heading towards me – therefore, I agree with the fox with mange theory since it seems to have very little fear of humans.

  • Mike B

    I saw an animal that was really weird. I live in Parkaridax in Alexandria. It was the size of a deer with a mane. It wasn’t a deer, a fox or a coyote. It might of been a really scrawny bear. I ran to get my camera and it was gone. I don’t think it was that animal pictured as what I saw was bigger.

    • Tabby_TwoTone

      That’s nice, Mike.

      *steps away quietly*

  • Jeanne B

    Continued drought has depleted a great deal of the food quantity and quality available to wildlife. Grass eating prey animals (eg. bunnies) are going to do much better if they are near human-controlled and well watered lawns; their predators are sure to follow.

    The berry crop in the wild is very poor this year and inspiring much more movements of bears, although I would be shocked if there was one in the inner suburbs.

  • Thomas

    I am from rural Illinois. I’ve seen many coyotes. This is not a coyote. Not even a juvenile coyote with mange. It definitely looks like a fox with mange.

    Reference: http://www.hiltonpond.org/images/FoxRedMange01.jpg I can see quite a bit of the similarity.

  • MadDog

    Last October, it ran past me. It looked like a fox with mange. I said “hey” and it glanced over at me. I was wondering if the fox was the cause of the local rabbit population’s decline.

  • Zelora

    I feel really sorry for that skinny animal no matter what it is. Dogs and coyotes can mate; my parents used to have a dog that the seller swore was a dog/wolf/coyote mix. This dog was wonderful — loyal and intelligent.

  • Edward

    That thing does look frightening

  • Joe

    Note to Animal Welfare League of Arlington: this has nothing to do with the leash law. This is a different deal from the typical dog running loose with its owner in the school playground during a rising kindergarteners’ playdate.

    In this case, there’s no owner to offend by picking up his/her “pet” whose learning how to survive in the outdoors as God intended.

    Instead, this is a wild animal who is potentially sick–at the very least pick it up to check it out so nobody gets sick. Thanks much.

  • YTK

    Fox with mange is the most likely answer to this. Get someone to humanely trap it, medicate it and release it.

  • Vision Quest

    Get that fox some rogaine

  • found the family

    the reporter of the washington post story emailed me the original article with a great pic of the lost dog. the picture on arlington now and the one in the post article are definately the same dog. PLEASE CALL 703-931-9241 IF YOU SEE THE DOG AGAIN.


  • Venusville

    I’ve seen plenty of those at Liberty Tavern.

  • henry

    I saw this thing yesterday (Sunday) in Doctors Run Park behind Randolph.Elementary School. I also thought it was a mangy fox. We locked eyes for a long time. He definitely was comfortable around ppl. This was afround 11am.

  • ShirlingtonBF

    Choot it, Lizbet!

  • Jedda

    Saw this “dog” one night near where route 50 passes target months ago. It was roaming around with a fox so at the time I assumed it was an injured or deformed fox.

  • Angela

    I just saw this dog walking through my neighborhood near the Quarterdeck restaurant on Saturday, August 18.

  • deb

    i just saw somthing that looks just like this photo. i have never seen anything that looks like this animal. more dog looking than cat. i actually thought it was a baby coyote but this thing had a very long tail and faint spotting. last seen on west lake road in canandaigua new york heading towards canandaigua lake

  • Sarah

    It is a fox with mange, and can easily be treated. If it is not treated, it will die a slow death. The Arlington Wildlife Rescue League can disperse medication to someone who regularly sees the fox – it just needs two doses – you put the medicine in chicken. http://www.wildliferescueleague.org/

  • Kim

    The animal in the picture could be a coyote in the summer. They shed the winter coats as do wolves, and foxes, no mange is visible and without the winter coat they do appear slender. Coyotes hunt at night and hunting time is vastly decreased during the summer months as the number of day light hours increases and the number of dark hours decrease, so thin and fluffy becomes skeletal and hairless. In addition the coyote could be a nursing mom which have the added burden of baby care…. Generally dogs take interest in humans as they pass by, hungry dogs beg, bark, growl, approach, jump, chase… wild animals do not exhibit these behaviors.


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