Midvalley family’s dog shot and killed | AspenTimes.com

Midvalley family’s dog shot and killed

John Colson
Aspen, CO Colorado

MISSIOURI HEIGHTS ” An Italian Mastiff dog was shot and killed in the Missouri Heights neighborhood, apparently on New Year’s Eve and within 200 yards of the home the dog lived in, according to the owner.

Lisa Hatem, who has lived with her family in the Panorama Ranch area of the midvalley for two years, acknowledged that her dog was on federal land at the time it was shot, but believes the shooter acted in an “unethical and unacceptable” way.

The Mastiff, named Cain, was three years old, gray in color and large enough that Hatem called him “my baby elephant.” He disappeared from the family home on Panorama Drive on New Year’s Eve and did not return by the customary curfew of 9 p.m., Hatem said on Wednesday.

The next day, she said, the family and some friends searched for hours without results, but ultimately she tracked Cain to the place where he had been shot and found him “with a bullet in his heart, frozen solid.”

She called the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, but they “didn’t want to be real helpful,” Hatem said, because Cain was on public land held by the Bureau of Land Management and not on a leash.

“Whoever it was that killed our dog, shot their gun in the direction of our home just 200 yards from our son’s bedroom window. How Careless!!!” Hatem wrote in a letter to the editor (see Letters). “This person killed a member of our family just to get a thrill of shooting and killing something on New Year’s Eve.”

Hatem said she was told by the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office that the shooting of dogs on the land near her home, which is part of the Bureau of Land Management’s holdings, is legal because dogs are not supposed to be roaming free on public lands.

Plus, she learned, rifle hunting season for deer and elk continues until late January, something she said she “was absolutely unaware of” despite her practice of checking the Colorado Division of Wildlife’s website frequently.

And hunters are a common sight in her neighborhood, she wrote in the letter, where they “park their pick-up trucks on Panorama Drive where the BLM land is and try to shoot and kill an elk basically from their truck, even though this Public Land is within view of several homes.”

In this instance, Hatem told The Aspen Times, the shooter “definitely knew they were shooting a dog. Whether it’s legal or not, it’s unethical and unacceptable.”

Garfield County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Tanny McGinnis said Wednesday that there is little her agency can do at this point, especially given the fact that no one witnessed the shooting or the dog’s behavior.

And, she noted, state law says that “if they are off a leash [and harassing wildlife in some way] anybody can put that animal down.”

McGinnis was uncertain whether her agency would investigate further, noting that the officer in charge was not on duty Wednesday.


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