A woman who said her therapy dog was accidentally shot and killed by a hunter near Whistler, B.C. has started a social media campaign to extend a no-hunting zone in the region.
Valerie Calderoni, who owns Canine Valley, a dog rehabilitation center in Squamish, said on the agency’s Facebook page that her 4-year-old dog Kaoru was shot from about 10 feet while hiking at Lake Lucille on Tuesday.
The dog was a Tamaskan – a rare breed that’s a cross between a Siberian husky, Alaskan malamute and a German shepherd – and may have been mistaken for a wolf, Calderoni said. She and a hiking partner were finishing a hike with a pack of 10 dogs when Kaoru was shot.
“We were going up a little bank onto an old forest road,” she said in her Facebook post. “I already had two dogs on the leash when I heard the bang, it was so loud, my instinct made me crouch down, then I looked, and I saw 10 feet in front of me my dog shot.”
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Her hiking partner yelled at the hunter to put his gun down. The dog died shortly after.
Calderoni said she’ll push to have more of the region near Squamish declared a no-hunting zone. She started a GoFundMe page to raise money to place no-hunting and interpretive signs, build a commemorative “Kaoru’s Trail” at Canine Valley, and to train more service dogs. As of Wednesday afternoon, she had raised nearly $7,000 toward a goal of $12,000.
“We just can’t allow this,” Calderoni told The Province newspaper in Vancouver. “This is the most horrible thing. Nobody should suffer this, no animal should go through this.”
She said she already has received many offers of help and support. Kaoru had worked with a variety of clients, from children with autism to adults with post-traumatic stress disorder.
“I spent hours working with her and training her to be a service dog, and I loved that she always (remained) wild,” Calderoni said.
British Columbia Conservation officer Kent Popjes told the Squamish Chief that his office is investigating the incident and has spoken with the hunter. It’s legal hunting season for mule deer and black bears in B.C.
“He was completely cooperative with the investigation,” Popjes said. “It appears to be an error in judgment.”