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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A heartbroken owner said her dog died this weekend after being attacked by a hawk, but even bird experts are calling the circumstances bizarre, reported WSMV.

For weeks, something in the sky had caught Barbara Sanders’ eye.

“We were home and I can tell you a couple of weeks ago and since then we’ve been seeing hawks in our neighborhood,” said Sanders.

Sanders, who lives near Hillsboro Village, saw a red-tailed hawk.

The sight always mystified her, but the next time she spotted the bird, her wonder would turn to fear.

“On Friday, we saw my dog, who had been out for a little while,” said Sanders. “He was at the door and we saw the hawk still trying to attack him. He came in immediately and was bleeding and just in shock.”

Sanders said the hawk attacked Bean, her 7-pound Maltese-Shih-Tzu mix. The family rushed Bean to the vet where he underwent surgery.

“There were puncture wounds,” said Sanders. “The hawk’s talons had grabbed him and the vet thought he had picked him up and dropped him. His eyes were so bloodshot.”

Animal advocates call this a rare attack, but not something out of a hawk’s nature.

“It would be unfortunately a natural action of a red-tail hawk,” said Laura Turner, an animal rights advocate. “They’re birds of prey, raptors, and they eat small mammals.”

Sanders wrapped Bean in blankets, trying to make him as comfortable as possible. The dog died Sunday morning.

“When a pet dies, it’s pure, innocent love and it’s just horrible and the pain is really deep,’ said Sanders.

After her dog’s death, Sanders wants to warn others. She said nothing can stop the cycle of life, except maybe a vigilant eye.

“Be careful with the little ones,” said Sanders. “I didn’t think a hawk would take a 7-pound creature, but I heard about them taking other creatures too.”

Sanders said one of her neighbors offered to shoot the hawk, but she decided that’s not something they want to do.

Federal laws actually protect birds of prey, so it’s illegal to kill or keep them without a permit.

If you’re worried about protecting your pets, the easiest thing to do is keep an eye on them outside. If you need to keep your animals outdoors, give them some covered shelter.