It looks like a dog... but it's not. Authorities warn pet owners about unusual coyote

At first glance, it looks like a dog. But this is not an animal you'd want to pet. It's a black coyote and it's been spotted many times in several neighborhoods in the Smyrna and Vinings area of Cobb County since late December.

Laurie Malecki said she has seen the coyote several times in her yard, and one time it tried to get into her house.

"I saw a shadow, I thought it was my dogs back there, then I realized we brought them in.  It was the coyote trying to come through our dog door," said Malecki.

Ryan Shilander said the coyote hopped his 4-foot fence to play with his dog, Lenin.

"I looked out the window and thought there seems to be a dog Lenin is playing with, they were jumping like puppies would play together," said Shilander.

His neighbor, Kris Hoffman, has been keeping track of how often the black coyote has been seen and where.  She said he's been in four or five neighborhoods.  She has a pet sitting business and the coyote has come up to her when she's with the dogs.

"It comes up to houses with dogs, tries to play with dogs while I'm walking the dogs. But it's not aggressive," said Hoffman.

"They're fairly rare, yet there seems to be a higher occurrence of them in the southeast United States," said Dr. Chris Mowry who is a professor at Berry College and also heads up the Atlanta Coyote Project. Dr. Mowry said the animal hasn't shown any signs of aggression, but it is unusual behavior for it to be so comfortable around people. He warns everyone not to let it play with their pets and don't let it in a confined space.

"Try to make noise, stomp your feet, and whatever you need to do to shoo it away," said Dr. Mowry.

He said efforts are currently underway to trap the animal. Once it's caught it will be taken to the Yellow River Wildlife Sanctuary.