A Pennsylvania family is grieving the loss of their beloved dog after a hunter mistook the pooch for a coyote and fatally shot him.
Chris Heller was walking his two dogs in the woods near his house on Jan. 7 when his 8-year-old malamute mix Hunter was shot by a deer hunter, his wife Jennifer Heller said in an online post.
Chris Heller rushed to get the pup to an emergency vet but he didn’t make the trip. Hunter died on the way, she said.
“Hunter was an incredibly sweet and intelligent dog — gentle with the Hellers’ young grandchildren, immediate best buddies with the other animals in the home, and a loving companion who would do anything for a good piece of cheese,” Jennifer Heller wrote.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission, however, said the hunter won’t face any charges or disciplinary measures because he made a mistake, thinking the beloved family pet was a coyote, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The Hellers want the commission to suspend the hunter’s hunting license and to make him retake a safety course — or at the very least an apology from him for killing their dog, Jennifer Heller said.
“One of the most important rules of hunting is to know what you’re shooting, and when this man shot despite that he snuffed out the life of a wonderful pet who had a lot more life and love to share,” she wrote.
Jennifer Heller said her husband was walking Hunter, who the family had adopted from a New Jersey shelter, and their German shepherd, Freya, on a cleared path through the woods and alerted the group of deer hunters of their presence.
Both dogs were wearing collars and harnesses and Hunter is nearly three times the size of a coyote, she added.
She said the hunter who killed the family pouch never apologized and refuses to come forward out of fear of social media backlash.
The family now plans to take legal action and has met with an attorney. They have launched a GoFundMe to cover legal fees.
“Hunter will be so greatly missed and was loved by our entire family. RIP our beautiful friend,” Jennifer Heller wrote.
The malamute’s shooting death is not the first time a hunter has killed a domesticated dog, mistaking it for a wild animal.
In November, a Montana woman was charged with animal cruelty after she shot and skinned a Siberian husky puppy, thinking it was a wolf. The woman sparked outrage after she posted photos of the skinned animal on social media.