Kathleen Stachowski Other Nations
It wasn’t hard to see this tragedy coming. Really, it was just a matter of time–not if it would happen, but when.
A Missoula, Montana man went skiing on Sunday, Nov. 17th with his three canine companions– malamutes all–and returned home with only two living dogs. The third, a 2-year-old named Little Dave, was shot multiple times by a camo-clad hunter who thought he was killing a wolf.
The story–as reported by the media and expounded upon by county and state officials–can be read in
two three four recent, local articles: “Missoula man says wolf hunter shot, killed pet malamute,” “Sheriff’s office: Shooting of dog near Lolo Pass wasn’t criminal,” and (two updates since posting) “Dog shooting reveals legal gray area for hunting, recreation,” and “Authorities spoke with hunter who killed dog, say he won’t be charged.”
Little Dave’s guardian, a man named Layne, witnessed his companion’s death. Because it’s right that he tell the story in his own voice, and because animal advocates will recognize the depth of his anguish–and anger, I offer his personal account of the event, taken with his permission from his Facebook page.
What is on my mind is the tragedy that has taken place and the miss quotes from the media and the Sheriffs dept. So I am setting the record straight. This is what happened….
I went crosscountry skiing up at Lee Creek campground where I have gone in the past. Knowing it was hunting season I put the bright lights that are on all three of my dogs collars.
After skiing for about 200-300 yards I here “tat”, my dog in front of me, his rear leg is blown off. I scream “no,no,no,stop stop” and as I near my dog who was 15 yards in front of me I hear “tat,tat,tat,tat.”
I look up and there is the “hunter” and I screamed “what have you done?” Screaming hysterically, the man says ” I thought it was a wolf.”
I said “You just killed my dog, you killed one of my kids.”
I started screaming “noooooo.” He started to say something like “can I do something,” not I am sorry.
I said “Do you know what a wolf looks like? You killed my dog.”
The man took off, I just screamed “noooooooo” and tried to put him back together but his leg was torn off and yes 15 yards in front of me and yes he was shot with an ASSAULT rifle, I know I have seen them it was either an AR 15 or AR 14. It was all black had a sound suppressor and that was why no big BOOM BOOM semi automatic.
I know guns, I don’t have any but I have shot them before, and yes I have hunted both Bow and Rifle. It is the irresponsible hunters who think they can shoot any animal they see if they are in the woods.
The MT Fish and Wildlife said they couldn’t press any charges because it wasn’t a game animal on the road, it was a domestic animal. What???? Bullshit, So I left my skiis and poles there, put my Little Dave’s bloody and broken body on my shoulder and hiked out to also get my other dogs to safety.
So no charges, I call the police dept who gives me examples of people getting hurt because of the public outcry and are afraid of vigilante violence. But the truth is still one of our rights and so is freedom of speech. I don’t want this guy to get hurt , but something needs to be done…I am heart truly heart broken, everything I do is for my dogs, from where I live, to what I drive, and what I do is predicated on the lives of my dogs…Thank you to everyone who has wished myself and my other dogs Frank and Rex well…Layne
Where do we go with our anger–those of us who love dogs? Who love wild places? The last time I went to Lee Creek–years ago now–we met friends there to go snowshoeing with our combined three dogs. Shortly afterward, we learned that a skier’s dog was caught in a snare at Lee Creek, yet we’d never given the first thought to the possibility that traps might be lying in wait there. Even the U.S. Forest Service touts this area for its winter recreation opportunities–but the mountains feel less friendly. We haven’t been back to Lee Creek since.
Now, a six-month-long wolf hunting season–September 15 to March 15–stretches into the future, increasing the odds that more tragedies await. As of today, 85 Montana wolves have been killed, and the 2-1/2 month wolf trapping season hasn’t even started. The woods are not safe for anyone–wild, domestic, or human.
A culture of gun worship, a vendetta mentality against wolves and other predators, and the complete dominance of blood sports in both funding the state management agency and setting its management goals have left a great many of us out in the cold, without peace of mind in wild country–when we venture there at all.
Little Dave, on a romp in the snowy outdoors, paid the ultimate price when a man with a gun couldn’t distinguish between a malamute and a wolf and took the shot anyhow. And then fired several more. And while the dog’s guardian is not necessarily opposed to hunting, it can’t be of any consolation that the bullets that killed his beloved companion were meant for another canine who loves her pups and her family equally as much, in her own way. We animals are really quite similar in many meaningful ways.