Chihuahuas may be the perfect size dog for NYC apartments, but it's not an easy life. The lovable little guys have a history of leaping into the East River, getting lost in the snow, and getting stuffed into suitcases at LaGuardia. And now, it seems, they're being eyed as food by urbanized birds of prey.
Nicole Lehman's 7-pound chihuahua Pico was attacked by a red-tailed hawk last week. Lehman sent photos of the dog and the hawk to West Side Rag, explaining that her pooch needed four stitches after he was clawed by the raptor Tuesday. The hawk reportedly swooped down at Pico, who had been out on Lehman's 16th-floor balcony. Luckily, Pico escaped the bird's clutches.
"I heard yelping, and he's kind of a scaredy-cat," Lehman told the Post. "I didn’t know if I heard the wing flap of the hawk, but I went out and I saw the hawk on its upswoop." Pico, who is 14 years old, reportedly fled to Lehman's bedroom where he hid, shivering.
West Side Rag points out that the attacking hawk is almost certainly the same one seen raising two incredibly cute baby chicks on a fire escape between West 71st and 72nd Streets. Lehman also claimed the hawk returned the next morning and got into an altercation with her other dog—a 75-pound pit bull that made it through the showdown unharmed.
For now, the balcony is off-limits to the dogs.
In 2003, a red-tailed hawk named Galon was brought to Bryant Park to control its rodent population. However, Galon made his own attack on a chihuahua, puncturing one with his talon—an incident that lead to him being evicted from Manhattan.
Red-tailed hawks are protected under the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the New York City Audubon Society notes that each year roughly a dozen hawk paris mate and nest inside the five boroughs.