2-Year-Old Hospitalized in Critical Condition After Being Attacked by Coyote Outside Dallas Home

Dallas Animal Services said the coyote was "routinely" fed and pet by neighbors, which "eroded the coyote's natural fear of humans and gave it the confidence to carry out this attack"

Coyote. Photo: Dallas Police Dept/Twitter

A 2-year-old child was hospitalized in Dallas after being attacked by a coyote on Tuesday morning.

After arriving on the scene around 8:30 a.m., police learned "that a 2-year-old child was sitting on the front porch" when they were attacked, the Dallas Police Department said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE.

Afterwards, the child — who has not been identified — was taken to a local hospital, where they were in critical condition, police said.

Following the attack, an officer was able to locate the coyote near a park on Royalpine Drive and "fired shots at the animal," which then retreated into the woods. It is unknown if the animal was struck.

Police are now actively searching for the coyote and have warned anybody in the area to "be on alert and consider this animal extremely dangerous."

Dallas Animal Services, which is assisting in the search, said their investigation determined "this specific coyote was well known in the neighborhood."

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"Residents were routinely handfeeding and petting it," they wrote in a statement. "This behavior eroded the coyote's natural fear of humans and gave it the confidence to carry out this attack."

"This tragic incident shows why it is critical that residents treat all wildlife as wild animals — when wild animals become too comfortable around humans, there is an increase in problematic and dangerous interactions such as this one that put both residents and the animal itself at risk," they wrote, noting that by nature, "coyotes are generally reclusive animals who prefer to avoid human contact."

The attack on Tuesday took place less than a week after a young girl was attacked by a coyote near the Huntington Beach pier in California.

The child suffered "serious but non-life-threatening" injuries as a result of the attack, the Huntington Beach Police Department said in a statement.

Two separate coyotes police believed to "have potentially been responsible for the bite" were shot by police and have since died.

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