HINTON, Alta. — A western Alberta woman is urging hunters and hikers to be more aware of their surroundings after her pet husky was mistaken for a wolf and shot in the legs.
Bethany Dyck was walking with two friends on Saturday along a wooded trail near Hinton, Alta., that runs parallel to an old road. The group was on its way back, when her pooch, Meka, was playing in the forest with another dog.
“We were three women walking single file, talking pretty loudly,” Dyck said Wednesday. ”The other dog that was with us had bells on and Meka was wearing a bright orange collar.”
They heard a gunshot and ran 30 metres through the bush toward the road, where they found Meka. Blood was seeping into the snow and the animal was screaming.
“It’s the worst sound I can imagine hearing coming from my pet,” Dyck recalled.
A hunter was in a clearing another 30 metres from where Meka was lying.
Hinton RCMP said in a news release that they were called to a rural area on Saturday where a husky had been shot.
“The adult male who had fired the shot was lawfully hunting in the area at the time and mistook the dog for a wolf,” the RCMP said. “The male has co-operated with the investigation.”
RCMP said no charges have been laid, but they’re asking anyone with information to contact them.
Dyck said one of her friends fashioned a tourniquet out of a sock to put on Meka’s leg and they set off for the vet. Throughout the 20-minute drive, Dyck said she was watching Meka’s chest rise and fall.
“She was very lucid the whole time. Her pupils never dilated. She was so clear and aware,” Dyck said.
The bullet went through Meka’s front right leg, hit bone, and then passed through her rear left leg.
She said the hunter stuck around and accompanied Dyck to the vet, but he told her he could only contribute $1,000 toward the bill.
Vet bills so far have totalled $4,000, Dyck said. If Meka needs surgery, which will be determined in another week or two, it could be another $4,000.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help ease some of the financial burden.
Dyck said she hopes her dog will be back to her usual self before too long.
“Meka’s happiest when she’s in the woods off leash going for a run. It’s so obvious when she’s running how happy she is,” she said.
“She has endless amounts of energy, especially when it’s -30 C. She loves people. She’s not a very affectionate dog, but she’s a really great sidekick to do any adventures.”
There was a similar case of mistaken identity near Whistler, B.C., in September. But that time, a four-year-old therapy dog that resembled a wolf died of its injuries after it was shot by a hunter.
Dyck said she hopes people will learn from her story.
“Just because you don’t hear or see them, you have to understand that there’s other people in the woods,” she said.
“So to assume that you’re by yourself on a Saturday afternoon, it’s a beautiful day outside, that there’s not going to be people walking their dogs, that’s wrong.”
She said she has nothing against hunting in general.
“But I’m not OK with them shooting my dog.”
— By Lauren Krugel in Calgary
The Canadian Press