SHELBY TOWNSHIP (WWJ) – Police say a family dog was killed by coyotes in a Shelby Township backyard.

The incident happened Thursday night in the 53000 block of Odilon, in the area of 24 Mile and Mound roads.

READ MORE: Michigan Matters: Pistons’ Rob Murphy on Helping His Hometown

According to police, the owner let the pet — a Pomeranian mix — out in their backyard before going to bed just like every other night. The owner stayed inside and had turned away when they heard yelping coming from outside and the unthinkable happened — the small dog was attacked and killed by two coyotes.

“A small dog out in its backyard and these two coyotes were, I’m assuming, looking for food and unfortunately chose this pet,” Deputy Police Chief Mark Coil told WWJ’s Chrystal Knight.

The family said they have witnessed an animal that they believed was a coyote near their home —  but that was over a year ago.

“They had no incident prior to this one,” said Coil. “But family pets are just that, part of the family. My heart breaks for this family. Any time that you have the loss of something that is near and dear to you, it’s just sickening.”

Coil said the incident should serve as a warning to other pet owners, especially those who live near a wooded area or who don’t have a fenced yard.

READ MORE: Ribs RnB Music Festival Kicks Off This Weekend In Downtown Detroit

“The first thing is just be cognizant of your surroundings, keep an eye on your pet and if you can be outside during the time that your pet is outside, do it. Even if it’s just for those short trips out, I think that you have a greater success. I don’t believe that the coyote is going to approach your pet if your out there with it,” said Coil. “And then if you know these animals are in your area, maybe you go out first before you let your pet out. And if you see something, call us, whether that’s the sheriff or local municipality, and hopefully we can come and assist you.”

To reduce the chance of coyote problems, residents are advised to eliminate all outside food — not just for pets — but bird seed and garbage as well. It should also be noted that coyotes don’t like bright lights or loud sounds or the smell of ammonia or perfume. Residents are urged to never feed, or attempt to touch a coyote.

Home or landowners experiencing problems with coyotes or who feel a coyote should be removed from their property should call a licensed nuisance animal control company. The typical cost associated with this service ranges from $300 to $750.

If there is immediate danger from a coyote, residents should call 911.

Get more information about coyotes and how to prevent attacks at this link.

MORE NEWS: Judge Says Michigan Gov. Whitmer Won't Have To Testify In Abortion Lawsuit