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Pets missing in Shalimar neighborhood

SHALIMAR - People in Shalimar are being cautioned that a predator could be stalking their pets.

Channel Three's Laura Hussey talked to two families who lost their cats; they say it's happening all over their neighborhood.

Reporter Laura Hussey says, "This is Woody, he's the newest addition to the McDearmon family here in Shalimar. They're keeping a close eye on him. About eight weeks ago, they lost a cat"

The yard is still full of felines.....there's Chibis, one-eyed Ringo, and of course Woody, who's discovered that birdbaths are really cat fountains.

But this gray little girl is missing. She'd been with the McDearmons for five years.

Scott McDearmon says, "She'd come up and greet you when you came home from work and....I miss her and my wife stil misses her. You know, just part of the family"

Two days after she disappeared, the next door neighbors lost ten-year-old Autumn. Scott Stone says it was heartbreaking.

Stone says, "We know it was related because they had both lived in the same neighborhood for years, they did not stray."

They started hearing about other missing cats, even small dogs. Flyers went up; some people offered rewards. An animal control officer says coyotes could be causing the disappearances.

Stone says, "My wife has seen coyotes on the golf course nearby. I've seen one in the driveway a couple of years ago." 

There are swampy woods behind the house, but McDearmon says his pets have safely coexisted with whatever's back there for years.

His cats and Stone's other cat roam the yard while the sun shines, but he says he's not taking any more chances at night.

McDearmon says, "When it starts to get dark out, I come out and get them and if I can't find 'em, I go looking for them"

Laura Hussey says, "If you have a cat or a dog that goes missing, the first call you should make here in Okaloosa County is to the Panhandle Animal Welfare Society."