Our Beautiful Dog Was Shot!

By Lisa G. S. Berg, DVM

Our beautiful malamute/husky dog, Reka, was shot yesterday while hiking with Jeff on a high use trail in Pike National Forest, across the street from the road we live on.

At 2 pm, on this gorgeous sunny Saturday, Jeff went for his customary hike with our dogs. We hike with our dogs 4-5 times per week on the trails near our house.  He parked at his usual place at the trailhead on Cedar Mountain Road, and was hiking down a marked foot trail that leads to the 717 system.  Two men, one from Castle Rock, and one from Colorado Springs, were out shooting coyotes for fun.  They were utilizing some type of “coyote calling” device to attract coyotes, and this got Reka’s attention and she went towards the noise.  She was shot in the chest.  She is a tall 75 lb malamute/husky, wearing a bright orange reflective collar with tags.

Jeff wrapped Reka in his sweatshirt to stem the bleeding, and immediately called me. Fortunately, I was at home, and within minutes I was there and I was able to get Reka over to Teller Park Vet and into surgery. With the assistance of Dr. Lemons, we spent two hours working on her, and despite a horrific wound and extensive blood loss, I believe she will survive, although it remains to be seen if she will be able to return to her previous level of fitness and continue to climb 14er’s with Jeff.

Jeff called the Teller County Sheriff’s department and the Division of Wildlife. Apparently, as long as the hunters “believed” that they were shooting a coyote, they are within their rights to shoot and/or kill dogs, hiking alongside their owners, with absolute impunity.

This is OUTRAGEOUS. I am incensed and livid that in a relatively densely populated area like Divide, on a marked trail, adjacent to Teller County’s largest subdivision of Indian Creek Estates, recreational shooters can shoot and kill your dog while you are hiking with her. They did not shoot her because she was unattended, at large, or chasing wildlife or livestock, or threatening anyone – in fact, she is quite shy and would never approach a stranger. They shot her because they were trigger-happy and did not have a clear enough view to distinguish a 75 lb collared malamute mix, hiking with a man and 3 other dogs, from a coyote.

On the USDA Forest Service’s own website, Pike National Forest is described as “… a busy urban national forest noted for the majority of fourteen thousand foot peaks in Colorado …”  We do not live in an area where you would not expect to see other hikers, horse riders, and ATV’ers and dog walkers!

Where is the justice?  We live here because we love nature and the outdoors.  We have every right to hike with our dogs in the national forest off leash, as long as we can recall them with voice commands. I know that so many of you, like me, spend hours of your free time out in the national forest with your dogs, horses and children.  Jeff and I, along with many of our friends, family, and children, have hiked this trail HUNDREDS of times in the last 4 years.  I do not think it is unreasonable to expect to be able to hike with your dogs, off leash but within recall range, without fear of being shot and killed.  Shouldn’t a person wielding a deadly weapon have to have a clear view of what he is shooting?

I think it is time to make hunters and recreational shooters RESPONSIBLE for knowing what they are shooting.  Hunters do not get a bad reputation for killing/consuming game, or defending their property or livestock.  They have this reputation because of incidents like this, when dogs, cattle, or horses are mistakenly shot due to the hunter not having a clear view of what he is shooting.

I am going to try to find a way to put on the books, somewhere, that if you can’t clearly see what you are shooting, then YOU SHOULDN’T SHOOT IT, and you will be responsible financially, via heavy fines, if you do so.  Shooters should have to take responsibility for shooting and/or killing our pets!!!!!!  I also believe that if they want to shoot wildlife, they need to GET OFF the marked trails, where people, horses, and ATVers can be expected to be.  Yes, it may take more effort for them to “bushwhack” to get off the trails – too bad!  In heavily wooded areas like Pike National Forest, it is often impossible to see that the dog coming around the corner of the trail towards you is 15 feet from its owner!!!!

Since they clearly could not see that Reka was hiking with a tall man in a bright red Parka, and 3 other dogs, including Sprighty, it is entirely possible that the bullet that blew open Reka’s chest could have also hit Jeff!  And yes, Sprighty, the Mayor of Divide, was also with Jeff when Reka was shot!  This may have to be her final act as Mayor of Divide – to make people handling deadly weapons be responsible for what they shoot!

I think there needs to be something done about the impunity that shooters enjoy! I am exhausted this morning, and have a horrible headache and heartache after spending the night lying on the floor next to Reka while she panted, whimpered and fussed all night trying to find a comfortable way to stand and sleep.

As a follow-up, Lisa wrote:

The hunter not only was not charged with anything, he has also refused to accept any responsibility and has refused to pay the bill for her veterinary care.

We are seeking legal representation to file a civil suit against the hunter, but as you know, it is difficult, especially in Colorado, to go up against the hunting segment of this area.
If you know an attorney who can help, please contact Dr. Berg.

This is a continuing nightmare of wildlife mismanagement and hunters’ control of our courts and lawmakers. Please visit: www.lohv.org to see if you might have an interest in forming a LOHV chapter in CO.

Lisa G. S. Berg, DVM, The Mobile Pet Vet, lbergdvm@aol.com, Divide, CO

But do coyotes deserve this or what happened to Reka? C.A.S.H. thinks not.!


Contact Us

Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting / C.A.S.H.
P.O. Box 562
New Paltz, NY 12561