Tips for keeping your pets safe from birds of prey:
News 12 at 6 o'clock / Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013
BEECH ISLAND, S.C. (WRDW) -- William Grace's pet Pomeranian named Tee was like his child.
"I got a little depressed and I missed the little guy; I still miss him, I guess I always will," Grace said.
Tee was a 10-year-old rescue dog, but all Grace has left of him now is his pink chew toy.
"I was napping until I had to go back to church, and I heard the dog screaming and hollering. I knew what was going on," he said.
A hawk swooped into his back yard and made the 10-pound Pomeranian his meal.
"By the time I got out here, it was all over and my dog was gone," Grace said.
Grace said he wanted to kill the hawk, but birds of prey are federally protected, meaning it's illegal to kill them.
Experts say there are some other ways to keep your pets safe if there's a hawk in the area. DNR officials say it's a good idea to remove bird feeders, since they attract small birds and mice, which are prey for raptors. You can also put shiny objects that move out in the yard, such as silver streamers, that will intimidate the birds. You can build a mesh wire roof over the area of the yard you let your pets out or keep your pets leashed with supervision to be extra safe.
Those are all lessons Grace learned the hard way.
"I don't let these puppies out here by themselves, well I haven't since then anyway," he said.
He's hoping the hawk will move on to another nest, but in the meantime, he'll be keeping a close eye on his new puppies, just in case the hawk is doing the same.
"If there are hawks or any kind of raptor flying around your property, get your small pets inside," he said.
Experts say even though it's not too common for pets to become a meal for a hawk, remember that they are wild animals and do not distinguish between a meal and a family's loved one.