Orcutt pet owners on high alert after several hawk attacks

Animal Services shares tips to protect small pets

Orcutt pet owners on high alert after...

ORCUTT, Calif. - Santa Barbara County Animal Services says birds of prey such as hawks are moving into residential areas, looking for food and warn residents to look after their pets.

The recent fires like the Thomas Fire burned off their habitat, forcing them to move.

Orcutt resident Cece Wallace says last week she returned home and found her Chihuahua "Chico" trapped in a hawk's talons.

"It was too late...I could tell my chico was gone. The hawk was pretty big -- I'd say about a foot and half tall and maybe even a foot wide.. he was a big guy," Wallace said. 

"Essentially these birds are starving and we as pet owners have a responsibility to be diligent and watch over our animals especially our small dogs and cats while they're outdoors to protect them from these animals," explained Stacy Silva, Community Outreach Coordinator for Santa Barbara County Animal Services. 

Birds like hawks are protected in California so you can't take removing them into your own hands.

Pet owners can, however, protect their furry friends by cleaning up extra debris around their home.

"Anything that can attract mice, gophers or rats, other types of small rodents that these birds typically hunt, will help to protect their pets," Silva said. 

With her precious pooch gone, Cece Wallace now worries about what's next for her outdoor cats.

"They seem to know when to get away and stay away and stay hidden so I think they're up on it more so than I was. I'm sorry for that...I wish I had known that they were here," she said.

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