The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Los Angeles said the 9-year-old dog, Ronnie, was in his back yard Aug. 1 with owners Janis and Eric Christensen and the family's other dog, Annie the Yorkie, when a coyote jumped over a fence, KTLA-TV, Los Angeles, reported Thursday.
The society said during Tuesday's award ceremony that Ronnie jumped in between his owners and the coyote and the two animals exchanged bites before the coyote fled.
Ronnie and his owners received a plaque proclaiming him the winner of the organization's 28th annual Hero Dog Award.
"Ronnie's personality was such that you wouldn't think he would spring into action like he did," society President Madeline Bernstein said. "This shows that treating your pet with love and respect can be returned by an amazing heroic act. Coyotes wandering into backyards looking for food is becoming more and more prevalent."
The family also received a year's supply of California Natural brand pet food and a weekend vacation at Hotel Maya in Long Beach, Calif.