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Michigan Hunter Mistakes Service Dog for Coyote, Tragedy Ensues

A service dog was shot dead by a hunter who mistook it for a coyote in Michigan. The hunter faces charges of animal killing and negligent use of a firearm.

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Dil Bar Irshad
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Michigan Hunter Mistakes Service Dog for Coyote, Tragedy Ensues

In the quiet of Colfax Township, Michigan, a service dog's life was tragically cut short in a fatal misunderstanding. The victim, a German Shepherd named Smokey, was out for an evening stroll with his owner on November 27, when the tranquility was shattered by a gunshot. Moments later, Smokey was found lifeless, just off the edge of their driveway.

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An Unforeseen Confrontation

Just as the horrifying reality sunk in, a 65-year-old hunter from Harrietta, identified as Douglas Alan Barnes, was seen leaving the vicinity in his truck. Upon confrontation, Barnes claimed he had mistaken Smokey for a coyote, asserting he hadn't noticed any human presence near the animal when he fired his 7MM Browning Model 81 lever action rifle. Authorities would later confiscate Barnes' firearm, noting that his scope was set to a 3X zoom, providing a field of view of approximately 40 feet.

The Aftermath

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At the time of the incident, Smokey was off-leash, and his owner was following at a distance of roughly 12 feet behind, sporting an illuminated headlamp. On December 29, over a month after the incident, an arrest warrant was issued for Barnes. He subsequently turned himself in at the Wexford County Jail on January 5. He now faces charges of killing/torturing an animal and reckless/negligent use of a firearm, with a court appearance scheduled for January 23.

A Wake-Up Call for Safety Measures

This tragic incident serves as a stark reminder of the potential dangers lurking when domestic animals are mistaken for wildlife by hunters. It underscores the importance of implementing and adhering to safety measures, ensuring that such tragedies do not repeat themselves.

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