Yellow lab shot and killed; Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office investigation underway
The Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the shooting death of a dog Wednesday at a private residence in the Crystal River Valley where a man came home and discovered his young yellow lab lying in a pool of blood in the family living room.
Surveillance video from the family’s property indicated that two shots were fired. The first was a misfire from a revolver and the second one, the fatal blow, came from a .22 rifle, resident and dog owner Tom Friel said Thursday.
Sheriff’s officials, however, were mum about the details of the investigation or what they believe transpired.
“I cannot confirm we have a suspect,” said Bruce Benjamin, juvenile investigator for the Sheriff’s Office. “It’s just too early.”
Undersheriff Ron Ryan struck a similar tone.
“There was a call to the Sheriff’s Office about that particular incident,” he said. “And our deputies responded to that report.”
Benjamin and Ryan would not acknowledge that a juvenile is a suspect.
But Friel and his wife, Kirsten Pamp-Friel, who live with their 7-year-old daughter in the 7 Oaks subdivision off Highway 133, said authorities told them a juvenile suspect was arrested Wednesday night and is in the custody of Mesa County.
The two said authorities told them a 13-year-old boy was wanted by police earlier that day after he fled from Garfield County Court, where he was due on unrelated charges.
While on the run, he broke into a house and stole a revolver and rifle, before hitchiking along Highway 133, where a driver picked him up and dropped him off in the vicinity of the 7 Oaks Road subdivision near the BRB Crystal River Resort, Friel said he was told.
The family was not at home at the time of the shooting.
“We were at our daughter’s peace presentation at school, ironically,” Pamp-Friel said.
The husband arrived home first, saw Otis the dog, and called authorities at approximately 6:15 p.m., he said. The shots originated from a trail that passes by the family’s 1-acre property, the couple said.
The rifle shot struck the chest of Otis, who would have turned 2 in March, while his companion, a 2-year-old yellow lab named Daisy, made her way through the house’s dog door upon hearing the ruckus, they said. Otis also fled indoors but it was too late.
“It hit him square in the chest,” the wife said. “We did have to have him taken to the veterinarian and extract the bullet for evidence.”
The husband said tracks of Otis’ blood were found outside and in the house.
The couple also had to break the news to their daughter, who did not see Otis in his deceased state.
“We’re devastated over this,” Pamp-Friel said. “Nobody should have to go through this.”
Benjamin and Ryan, without speaking about the incident in question, said the shooting death of a dog likely would rise to the level of a felony charge.
“If somebody did shoot a dog, it could be a felony cruelty to animals and criminal mischief, speaking in general terms,” Benjamin said.
Ryan added that “I doubt a misdemeanor would be appropriate on something like this.”
Authorities told Pamp-Friel they believe the shooter acted alone, she said.
“To be truthful,” she said, “there is so much wrong with this. Why this kid wanted the animal to die — what does that lead to in the next five years?”
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Kevin Warner started his career with the U.S. Forest Service as a wilderness ranger in 2001. Now he’s taking over the key position as Aspen-Sopris District Ranger.