An animal trainer in Canada was standing just 10 feet away from her therapy dog when a hunter shot and killed the pooch during their regular hike in the woods.
“Today my dog, my partner, was killed at point blank,” Valley Calderoni wrote in a heartfelt Facebook post following the tragedy.
Calderoni and colleague Markie Blackburn from Canine Valley, an animal rehabilitation center, were wrapping up their regular hike with the dog, Kaoru, and nine other dogs near lake Lucille, in British Colombia, on Monday when they heard a loud bang.
“It was so loud, my instinct made me crouch down,” wrote Calderoni.
She looked up to find her 4-year-old Tamaskan dog covered in blood.
“All I can see is my dog getting shot — her face, her eyes looking at me with absolute disbelief,” Calderoni told CBC. “I held her and I told her to go, just go, and she died.”
The hunter, a local resident whose name was withheld, allegedly mistook Kaoru for a wolf, Calderoni wrote on Facebook.
He stayed on the scene until conservation officers arrived.
“He was completely cooperative with the investigation,” conservation officer Kent Popjes told CBC. “It appears to be an error in judgment.”
No charges have been filed but an investigation is ongoing. It’s legal hunting season for mule deer and black bears, according to conservation officers. Wolves sometimes roam the area, but not where Calderoni walked with her dogs.
“We could have died. I hike in that location with kids all the time, could you imagine if a child had to experience that or worse if he had hit a child,” Calderoni wrote of the encounter.
Calderoni – who adopted Kaoru when she was a puppy – spent thousands of hours training the dog to work with special needs children and adults with emotional problems.
“The most beautiful thing I ever saw Kaoru do was when she was working with Autistic children,” she wrote.
“These beautiful kids have episodes and would sometimes be rough with her, but Kaoru was amazing and followed her training perfectly. She would squint her eyes, lay down, and let out a sigh, the kids then would slowly begin to calm down as their hands crunched tightly on Kaoru’s fur.”
Calderoni started a GoFundMe page to raise the money needed to train another service dog, as well as start a campaign to extend the no-hunting zone to include the area she frequently walked Kaoru.
“I am in pain and I want to use this intense pain to help stop this, we can…