Here’s a blog post recounting an encounter between a hawk (species unspecified), a chihuahua, and its owner. The owner managed to get the hawk to let go of the dog, though the dog sustained some severe injuries. The comments also bring out some anti-hawk sentiment.
A little natural history for you folks: it’s winter now. Hawks, such as the red-tailed hawk, have high juvenile mortality. Estimates run upwards of 80% of all first-year birds will not survive to next spring. So, you have a bunch of starving hawks out there, often living near humans, since we have co-opted so much of their range (see “habitat loss”). Red-tailed hawks are buteos; these birds prey on small mammals. People with toy dogs shouldn’t be too surprised when a starving hawk decides that it is worth a try to get a small mammal under less than ideal circumstances. That includes getting close to people.
The hawk that failed to make a meal out of the chihuahua? Odds are that it is dead by now, if not solely from starvation, perhaps also from injuries sustained during the dog owner’s counter-attack. For the commenter saying that he “hates hawks”, this is probably a comforting thought that so many of them are dying as we speak. The chihuahua, at 2 pounds, 5 ounces, most likely outweighed the hawk attacking it, especially if it was already malnourished.
I guess what I’d like to communicate is that we still live in a world with wildlife. If you have a small mammal as a pet, part of your responsibility is to realize that starvation makes both people and wildlife desperate. A little forethought concerning when and where one lets a toy dog outside is just something you need to invest. Close supervision of your companion outside through the winter months is the strongest deterrent you have to communicate to a raptor that it should spend its time looking for different prey.