A Winnipeg family is warning pet owners about coyotes.

Kathy Mathae says two coyotes attacked and killed her Spanish mix dog Spencer.

It happened Tuesday morning in Transcona near Peguis Street and Almey Avenue.

Mathae said she let Spencer outside in the yard to do his business as usual. But this time, she didn't hook him up to his rope. The backyard is not fenced.

When Mathae called out for Spencer, he didn't come back, so she had her husband take a look.

“He saw two coyotes running away so then both of us went back out and found Spencer dead," she said.

The family is upset. Spencer was a member of the family for the past nine years. Mathae said Spencer was a gentle soul who loved cuddling and people.

She said living next to an open field, she's aware of the coyotes and doesn’t want any other family to experience the pain of losing a pet this way.

"We are going to miss him a lot,” said Mathae. "Don't let it slip. Always keep your dog on a leash. Always keep an eye on your dog."

Manitoba Sustainable Development received a report of the attack, which says the dog approached coyotes, presumably defending its territory.

The City of Winnipeg said coyotes will roam in urban green spaces especially on the edges of the city, and will eat mice rabbits and other small animals. When owners don't have a fence around a yard,  it's important to watch pets at all times.

"Coyotes will sometimes go after dogs. Sometimes dogs will go after coyotes, and unfortunately especially with the small dogs, if the small dog gets into it with the coyotes  ultimately the dog is going to lose,"  said Leland Gordon with Animal Services.

Manitoba Sustainable Development said coyotes are typically afraid of people. It said if a person sees one, they should make noise, or wave arms. It also suggested owners carry a container with pebbles and shake it while walking.            

It also said owners should always keep pets on a leash, make sure there isn't any loose garbage around yards, and feed pets inside so as not to attract animals.

It recommends putting up a fence around yards and installing items like motion-activated lights or sounds.