Dog shooting has many upset |

Dog shooting has many upset

John Colson
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

MISSOURI HEIGHTS ” The owners of a dog killed by a gunshot on New Year’s Eve are looking for information about the shooter, reportedly with the help of a $1,000 reward, and the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office is considering whether the case merits criminal charges if the shooter is found.

A law enforcement spokeswoman said that if new information comes to light that points at a suspect or suspects, reveals exactly where the dog was shot and from which direction, it may be that charges can be filed.

Meanwhile, a story in the Jan. 3 Aspen Times has drawn a range of comments from online readers about the matter.

“Whatever disgusting excuse for a human being did this deserves to be shot himself,” declared one reader in an anonymous response to the story, while another maintains, “Automatically assuming that the dog was shot by a hunter is just as careless and reckless as the behavior of whomever it was who shot the dog.”

The dog’s owners, the Hatem family of Missouri Heights in the midvalley, did not specifically say they believed the dog was shot by a hunter, although Lisa Hatem told a reporter that hunters often can be seen in her neighborhood as they prepare to go hunting on nearby acreage controlled by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

The dog, a three-year-old Italian Mastiff named Cain, was found dead on BLM land near the Hatem home on New Year’s Day, shot once through the heart. It had disappeared the night before, Hatem said, prompting a search that took hours before the carcass was located.

Other comments on The Aspen Times website have been critical of the Hatems for letting the dog run free on public lands.

“Maybe the dog was shot by someone whom it was threatening; maybe it was harassing wildlife,” surmised one reader. “I too live next to BLM lands open for public use, and realize that with that benefit comes responsibilities, including the responsibility to keep my pets on my own property.”

Still others have offered support, including one response that alluded to a $1,000 reward being offered for information about the shooting and the shooter.

According to Garfield County spokeswoman Tanny McGinnis, the deputy assigned to the case is looking into whether charges might be appropriate should the shooter ever be found, including possibly charges of cruelty to animals and reckless endangerment of human lives. The dog was shot, according to Lisa Hatem, about 200 yards from the Hatem home.

Since the dog was not on a leash, was roaming free on BLM land and might have been harassing wildlife, McGinnis said, the county’s options are limited because under certain circumstances the law allows that “anybody can put that animal down.”

She said that without witnesses, it would be difficult to prove that a crime was committed, but added, “It remains under investigation.”

The Hatems could not be reached for further comment late Thursday.

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