The Aftermath of the Dog Shooting Incident: Got Orange?

My heart aches for the family whose German Shepherd Dog was shot in Orrington, Maine.  I’ve been trying to follow the story and actually had posted the article itself here on the blog briefly then thought twice about doing this. I apologize if you arrive here expecting to find the article in its entirety. I have provided the link here so that you can take the time to read it as published here in the Bangor Daily News online addition.  The coverage of the story seems to be ongoing so if you’re interested in following it check that link frequently:  http://bangordailynews.com/2011/11/03/news/police-beat/orrington-man-charged-with-shooting-dog/ 

As a hunter and as a dog owner, I can actually see both sides of this story and feel emotionally charged at every level.  I’m not going to chastise anyone or point fingers.  I have listened to various opinions many of which are conflicting.  I’ve been in the woods when it wasn’t hunting season when an unknown dog approached me bearing its teeth.  My companion dog at the time protected me by stepping onto the path in front of me and standing their ground. This resulted in a severe attack to my dog’s neck and an emergency trip to the vets for uncontrolled bleeding.  It was a local dog, we knew its owners who felt absolutely terrible. What would I have done if it had have been hunting season, I was carrying my rifle, and my dog was not with me?  Please don’t take this to mean I support what happened.  I am only trying to illustrate that it can happen, to anyone under any number of circumstances and conditions.

On the other hand, even though my husband and I are both active hunters, I am always very much aware of the dangers of letting our dogs run off leash in our yard during hunting season. And when actively hunting – ALL hunters need to be absolutely certain of what they are shooting at before pulling the trigger.  There are questions to be answered, accountability to reckon with here.  Maine’s hunting laws are very clear. 

My heart aches for the family who lost their dog.  That is what matters most.  It happened and no amount of explanation can change that. Our heart and prayers go out to them and to their family. It was bad enough that the dog ran off on Monday and they had been seeking to find it.  I am sure they never expected the end result to be that it had been shot.

Hunting seasons overlap. There are bird hunters in the fields and the woods with their dogs hunting grouse, woodcock and other upland game during deer, bear, and moose hunting season.  There may even still be some people training their dogs in certain areas. Regardless of thoughts about hunting or the purpose for being in the woods at this time of year one way to keep ourselves and our dogs safe is to invest in flourescent orange articles.  Maine State law requires that hunters wear orange.  Particular requirements and specifications are found at http://www.eregulations.com/maine/hunting/hunter-orange-clothing-requirements/ . 

Responsible dog owners can take the same precautions with their  four-footed best friends. Pictured above are just a few of the options available for outdoor dogs.  In the past I have bought a few yards of orange fabric, cut it into large squares and made bandanas for them to wear outside.  There are so many fashionable and cutesy type dog collars on the market today.  There are also very practical fluorescent orange day glow collars for dogs to wear too.  Whether you enjoy the great outdoors as a hunter or as a gatherer, if you’re a responsible dog owner you enjoy spending time in the great outdoors during the fall with your dog.  In light of the recent tragedy that happened here in Maine, perhaps we will all be inclined to take extra precautions from this point on.