She was near the end of her hike with a colleague and their dogs on Monday when suddenly she heard a deafening, unfamiliar bang.
“I look up, and I see my dog, and she was bleeding,” Valley Calderoni of Squamish, British Columbia, told the CBC. The dog stumbled and then fell over. “All I can see is my dog getting shot — her face, her eyes looking at me with absolute disbelief.”
Calderoni ran to the 4-year-old dog, Kaoru, who worked with children with autism and people with emotional problems as a therapy dog at Canine Valley, the rehabilitation center where Calderoni works. Calderoni held the dying dog.
That’s when her colleague, Markie Blackburn, yelled: “Put the gun down.”
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The dog had been shot by a hunter, according to the CBC, as the pair was out walking 10 dogs they care for at Canine Valley. The hunter was about 20 feet away, according to the Squamish Chief. On Facebook, a representative from Canine Valley said the dog was “killed at point blank.”
“It was very in plain sight,” Blackburn said. “It was really shocking.”
The women who were walking the dogs speculated to the Squamish Chief that the hunter may have thought the dog was a wolf.
Conservation officer Kent Popjes told the Chief that the British Columbia Conservation Officer Service has already spoken with the hunter.
“He was completely cooperative with the investigation,” said Popjes. “It appears to be an error in judgment.”
Popjes didn’t indicate what kind of animal the hunter may have thought he was shooting, but Popjes did tell the CBC that it’s legal hunting season for mule deer and black bears.
Kaoru was a traumatized puppy when Calderoni took her in, the CBC reports, and only after thousands of hours of training was she ready to be a therapy dog.
Calderoni said she’s speaking out about the incident to make sure hunters are aware of their surroundings.
“I don't want anyone to go through the pain of watching your soulmate die in front of you,” she told the CBC.
It’s unclear if any charges will be filed against the hunter. Popjes, the conservation officer, warned that hunter should be very cautious.
“Take your time, slow down, take a breath and make sure you know exactly what you are shooting at is a safe and legal animal,” he told the CBC. “As a hunter, it's your responsibility to completely identify the target before you pull the trigger.”