OCALA, Fla. -

An Ocala man and his two small dogs were attacked by coyotes while walking in his suburban subdivision.

The Star-Banner reports that Jack Miller was near his front door with his poodle, Tinkerbell, and his Maltese/Chihuahua mix, Jax, when at least five coyotes surrounded them.

Miller said Tinkerbell jumped between him and the coyotes "like a pitbull," while Jax cowered.

He punched one of the coyotes but said he couldn't fend off the animals. One grabbed Jax and bolted off. Tinkerbell was unhurt.

Joy Hill, a spokeswoman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said coyotes are generally associated with western regions of the United States but are increasingly becoming a problem in Florida as well, as the species' population grows and development encroaches on their habitat.