As the first staff member at Save-A-Pet arrived at the shelter Tuesday morning, January 26th, she found a black dog standing near the back door. Someone had dumped this dog off in the early morning hours and left him there with half a bag of dog food and two dog toys. The dog immediately ran to the staff member’s car looking for his family, but as soon as he realized it was a stranger he ran off.
This continued for the rest of the morning and into the afternoon. The dog would run across busy Fairfield Road, then he’d come back searching desperately for his family. Save-A-Pet staff and volunteers tried luring the dog with food, a warm car, even a trap provided by Lake County Animal Control. Nothing worked.
Around 2:00 p.m. that afternoon a staff member reported seeing the dog near Fairfield Road and Route 120, a highly trafficked intersection. Shelter Manager Dana Deutsch went out looking for the dog hoping to catch him, or at least hoping she could lead him back toward the shelter and the trap. About half a mile from the shelter at Townline, she saw the dog standing all alone in a field behind someone’s home. She hoped at this point she could approach the dog from the other side of the home, but as she backed up her vehicle she heard a gunshot.
Deutsch pulled into the driveway to see who was shooting from the home. As she heard another gunshot she was able to see through the front window, and inside the home she witnessed a man raise a rifle and aim out the back window. Another gunshot rang out and without thinking of her own well-being, Deutsch ran to the front door and began pounding, screaming that he was shooting at her dog. Surprisingly, the man opened the front door and claimed he wasn’t shooting at any dog, but at something else in his back yard.
Deutsch immediately called the police and could see the dog lying in the field behind the man’s home. She ran across the field to the dog, where she was joined by two Round Lake Public Works employees who had been trying to capture the dog to keep it safe from an approaching coyote. The dog was lying in a pool of blood and had taken an agonizing breath. The Public Works employees helped load the dog into their truck and drove Deutsch back to her car.
Deutsch drove the dog to the Animal Emergency & Treatment Center (AETC) but as she lifted him out of her car, she knew he had died on the way there. According to the veterinarian his death was caused by a single gunshot wound to the neck. The man that shot him lives .6 miles from Save-A-Pet.
The Lake County Sheriff’s Office is investigating this incident, but so far no charges have been filed. Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran told the Pioneer Press, “Like most people, I am a dog lover. Cruelty to animals can sometimes lead to cruelty to people.”
Save-A-Pet’s Development Director, Marc Portugal, told the Chicago Tribune, “A lot of people think they’re actually helping by dumping their pets. It’s actually the opposite.” According to Deutsch, this dog had been well-fed, was neutered and had a shiny, healthy coat - not typical for a neglected dog.
No one knows why the owner of this dog dumped him at Save-A-Pet that morning. No one knows why, if this was the owner’s last resort, they didn’t tie him up so he could truly be saved. This incident should serve as a reminder to all of us the importance of keeping our animals safe, and why no animal should ever be dumped.
The Save-A-Pet staff decided to give this dog a name – Justice.
We can only hope that justice is served for this innocent victim, who woke up happily with his family Tuesday morning and had no idea that he would be dumped like trash and end up getting shot to death the same day.