A pet dog was attacked and killed by a coyote Wednesday night in the northern section of Fairfield.

Police Lt. Jim Perez said the attack occurred about midnight after the dog's owner, who was not identified, let her pet out in the backyard off upper Black Rock Turnpike. The little Pomeranian was immediately set upon by two coyotes and was quickly killed, he said.

"The owner chased the coyotes away with a broomstick, and then ran away," Perez said. "But I would not recommend that anyone confront coyotes."

He recommended that people alert police if they see coyotes behaving in a threatening manner.

"We can send a couple officers out there in a hurry," he said.

Perez said that this is the first time anyone at the Police Department can recall that a pet has been killed by a coyote in Fairfield. But the animals, which have a range that increasingly includes developed areas of southwestern Connecticut as well as other parts of the U.S., Canada and Mexico, are known to attack pet dogs and cats, mice, squirrels and sickly deer. Attacks on humans are unusual, but not unheard of.

Perez said the local dog owner, who lives near the Hi-Ho Motel at 4180 Black Rock Turnpike didn't report the incident until Thursday afternoon.

"A lot of people have trouble distinguishing a coyote from a dog, but whenever you see an animal acting in threatening manner, immediately call the police," Perez said. "Even domestic dogs will attack you, especially if they're in packs," he said. "Get back in your home and call police."

He said that when walking a dog at night, take along a flashlight to shine in the eyes of an approaching coyote. "This will at least buy you a little time," he said.

The Pomeranian, whose name was Pudding, police said, probably weighed about 5 pounds and coyotes weigh between 15 and 45 pounds. Coyotes, or Canis latrans, usually live in groups called "routs" of several individuals. But they usually hunt in pairs, as was the case here.

"Bottom line, this was the loss of a cherished member of the family, and it's tragic," Perez.