Family heartbroken after owl attacks and kills their pet dog

HENRY COUNTY, Ga. — For years, the Holt family has lived at the end of the cul de sac of a McDonough subdivision.

They’ve seen coyotes and snakes, but never thought it would be an owl that would bring them such grief after the same nightly routine of taking their Yorkie out.

"Freedom came running from the driveway area toward my son and the door and it was blood all over him,” said Serrita Holt.

She recalled the night of Dec. 23 when her son let their 5-year-old Yorkie out.


"That was normal. Every night around 9:30 or 10, he would do that. And unfortunately, that night was just a bad night,” recalled Holt.

That’s the night Freedom was attacked.

“There were puncture wounds all over his back and his chest and it was an owl attack,” she said.

Despite surgery and medical attention, Freedom died the next day.  For the entire family, especially their third grade daughter, there was sadness.

“They become part of your family so it’s so devastating, especially with young children,” said Josh Holt.

“They don’t normally attack our pets,” said Adam Betuel with the Atlanta Audobon Society. While those kinds of attacks are rare, they are not unheard of, especially in young owls that fight to survive in their first year.

“They’re hungry, they’ve had this cold snap, they’re a young bird and they might make the mistake of going after a pet,” said Betuel.

Betuel said the largest owls range between two and five pounds and feed on smaller mammals, worms and insects. He stated that a small dog would pose quite a threat to an owl.

The Holts shot video of what appears to be a hawk perched in front of their home. After an owl cost their dog its life, they have a warning for neighbors: stay aware of your surroundings. Keep your pets on a leash and keep them close to you.

The family has since added a new Yorkie to their family, named “Liberty.”