BAINBRIDGE ISLAND – The pack of wild canines flashed up the long driveway off Sportsman Club Road and began closing in an instant. Snapping and aggressive, they began moving in on 12-year-old Charlie Odermat and his two dogs. As the pack circled in on the trio, teeth barred and threatening, it became clear to the youth that the pack wasn’t going to be intimidated by some clapping or a yell.

Just seconds before, the day had been like many others before, with the boy giving his two beloved spaniels some yard time before he headed off down the street to school. It was about 8 a.m. on a bright November Monday morning.

Charlie scooped up Skyla, one of his dogs, and ran for the house, a pair of the wild animals on his heels. He slipped inside and slammed the door shut, the two scratching behind him. A few moments later, he ran back out, hoping to save Sam, his other Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, but it was too late. The animals had ripped into the cherished family pet, killing it.

During the attack, Charlie had yelled and shown himself as large and intimidating, but the animals had been undeterred, his mother, Regina Bellody said.

“He wanted to help his dogs,” she said, standing just feet from where the incident happened on Nov. 13. “He said it was like a bad movie, that was the first thing he said to me. He’s had a lot of nightmares.”

While many on social media over the last few weeks have associated the attack with a pack of coyotes, it seems more likely that an aggressive pack of feral or domestic dogs is to blame, according to Lynne Weber, an animal expert with Bainbridge’s West Sound Wildlife Shelter. Judging by how large the animals were reported to be and how they acted in this incident, a pack of coyotes doesn’t seem to fit, she said.

Bainbridge has no shortage of rural areas, so coyote howls are common. But an attack by a pack of coyotes would be out of the ordinary, Weber said, noting that the animals are typically skittish and will back off when challenged.

“The fact that this animal growled at him and came forward and still kept attacking, that’s why we don’t think it was a coyote,” she said. “Normally if you’re out in the woods and you see coyotes and start waving and screaming, they’re going to back off, even if you’ve got a little dog next to you. They usually don’t attack.”

It’s unclear what kind of animals have been roaming Bellody’s neighborhood, but they’ve become aggressive recently, which is especially concerning given how many students walk to nearby Woodward Middle and Sakai Intermediate schools, Bellody said. Other neighbors have reported the animals stalking them nearby too, she said.

Bellody said her family has taken to carrying mace and a baseball bat when walking their dogs now. She’s hoping that the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife, which tracks and responds to incidents like this one, will intervene.

Capt. Dan Chadwick, an enforcement officer with Fish and Wildlife, said the agency will respond to areas where animals repeatedly become nuisances, but said that officers typically ask that people living near those animals make sure they’re not leaving out food or other attractants that might keep the animals around.

Keeping small animals close, or using bear spray, an airhorn or spraying water from a hose can deter aggressive animals, the wildlife experts said.

"You just have to be aware of your surroundings and keep your dog on a leash," said Weber, with West Sound Wildlife Shelter. "There is wildlife and wild is wild."

Said Chadwick: “Those animals are around all the time whether you see them or not, especially if you live near green belts or any wooded area. It’s nothing to be overly alarmed about, but just be aware, especially if you have small pets.”