The C.A.S.H. Courier Newsletter
Winter 2012 Issue
Our Beautiful Dog Was Shot!
By Lisa G. S. Berg, DVM
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 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
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
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,
firstname.lastname@example.org, Divide, CO
coyotes deserve this or what happened to Reka? C.A.S.H. thinks not.!
Go on to
In Memory of Rita Sarnicola
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