TULSA, Oklahoma - A word of warning for those with small pets; experts say you should avoid leaving them outside alone, especially this time of year.

They say if you're not watching them, something else is.

Area animal rescues say they've been getting calls from dog owners who suspect large birds are snatching their pets right out of their backyards.

It happened to Amy Deaver's Pomeranian, Ellie Mae. One minute the little dog was running and playing outside, and then, she said, came a bird.

"Swooped in and snatched her up," Deaver said.

Ellie Mae disappeared, and her owner’s heart was broken.

Deaver said, "That was her last minute on Earth, was being carried away by this, this bird. Carrying it through the air and then, eventually, probably being its dinner."

Her other dogs, thankfully, were spared.

With the exception of Gracie the Great Dane, most of her dogs are toy breeds - bite-sized treats for birds of prey.

Experts at the Tulsa Zoo say bald eagles, Oklahoma's largest birds of prey, weigh about eight to 12 pounds, so they're not able to carry anything but tiny pets.

But, eagles, owls and hawks will stalk and attack small pets left outside.

It happens more often in the spring and summer when fledglings are learning to hunt.

That's what dog owner Chelsie Root thinks happened to her teacup Yorkie in Mayes County last June.

"You don't think it happens to you until it does. I was up until 2 a.m., screaming her name. Couldn't find her," she said.

Now these dog owners know better.

"No pun intended, but watch them like a hawk," Deaver said.

Experts say all dogs less than 15 pounds should be supervised while they're outdoors and all cats should be kept inside at all times.