COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS, Utah (ABC4) — A dog owner in Cottonwood Heights told ABC4 about his terrifying experience with a “hawk attack” on Sunday, Aug. 6, and said he could have lost his dog had he not been there.

Kerry Jensen had let his two dogs out early Sunday morning for a bathroom break when the unexpected happened. A Cooper’s Hawk swooped down from a nearby tree and headed directly toward his Yorkshire terrier named Rocket.

A Cooper’s Hawk is a medium-sized hawk native to North America. This breed usually captures prey with its feet and kills it by repeated squeezing, according to The Cornell Lab.

Jensen said he was actually standing in the doorway when this happened and was able to scare the hawk away. He told ABC4 if he wasn’t there, he thinks Rocket would have been carried away or injured by the hawk.

The terrifying incident was caught on camera. The video shows a juvenile Cooper’s Hawk swooping down toward the six-pound Yorkie.

“We were standing on the back porch. Suddenly I was hearing hawk noises, and out of nowhere, a hawk flew in and tried to swoop in and grab his little buddy that’s half his size. Fortunately, I screamed at the top of my lungs, scared it away before I could grab the dog,” Jensen said.

Jensen has lived in Cottonwood Heights since 2009 and has never been this worried about letting his dog outside.

“There are a lot of cats, and occasionally a cat will get into the yard, maybe a magpie,” Jensen said. “[I] never worried about something killing my dog, but had a very near near-death experience for the little guy.”

Wildlife experts say that it’s common to get more calls like this around this time of year as these hawks commonly nest in urban areas.

“This is the time of year that the young hawks are first fledging out of the nest,” Adam Brewerton, a Northern Region Conservation Biologist with the Division of Wildlife Resources said. “They’re starting to learn how to hunt, the parents are still being pretty protective of them.”

According to Brewerton, it is more likely hawks perceive dogs as a threat, and not a meal.

“It’s a time of year that we do get a lot of calls reporting a hawk, either like swooping at a person or swooping in a small animal or, you know, a dog, a chicken, a cat, or something like that,” Brewerton said. “And it’s often a defensive behavior from the bird’s perspective. They see the pet or person or whatever it is as a threat to either itself or to its young.”

The good news for small pet owners in the area is that these young hawks will likely move on in the next week or two. According to Brewerton, the hawk might hang around the backyard or the neighborhood for a bit, but in about a week or two, the bird will move on.

In the meantime, Brewerton recommends being outside with your small pets while the birds of prey are around.

If you are still having a problem after a few weeks, you can contact the Division of Wildlife Resources to see if relocating the bird is an option. You can visit their website to learn more.