A Dysart couple is reeling after a beloved hound and her three-month-old puppy were shot and killed.
On the evening of Oct. 21, Lacey Finch and Justin Hutchison’s eight-year-old hound, Hunter, and her puppy, Nova, trotted into the bush behind their house as they did every night. They were always let out to go to the bathroom before eating dinner and cuddling in the living room with Finch and Hutchison.
But Finch said, “I called and called and called and they didn’t come back.” Finch said she then heard two shotgun blasts from the forest.
“We didn’t hear yelling, we didn’t hear barking; nothing.”
Hutchison said he figured it was unsafe to go into the forest which borders their backyard because of the gunshots, however, he went to a property on the other side of the forest where it seemed like the gunshots had come from. They said a person on the property denied hearing gunshots.
After a sleepless night, the couple called the police.
Hutchison later found the dogs’ bodies covered with sticks on the adjacent property, their collars removed.
He called the Haliburton Highlands OPP, and an officer attended the scene. According to an OPP press release on Oct. 27, the incident is under investigation but the individual responsible has not been identified.
Hutchison has since buried Hunter and Nova on their property together, along with the puppy’s favourite toy and blanket.
“I’m scared. I’m exhausted. I’m beyond sad for my dogs. They were more than dogs to me, they were my whole life,” Finch said.
Finch described Hunter as “the most gentle dog ever,” who was more like a child than animal. The dog had her own Instagram account “househoundhunter,” where videos and pictures show Hunter posing with other dogs, cuddling on boats, wagging her tail while playing in the snow, and, most recently, keeping a careful eye on Nova.
“You can see how much she was loved, and what her personality was like from her pictures.”
Finch said they were excited to bring Hunter hunting with Nova, to show the puppy how to help. “It was going to be Nova’s first time at the camp this year. Her first time following her mom and her dad.” The couple said they appreciated the outpouring of phone calls, text messages and online comments of support they’ve received since posting about the incident.
“We’re not out there for a hate crime, we’re out there to prevent this from happening to someone else.” They urge people to remain calm and let the police conduct their investigation without interference.
Finch has started a hashtag, #JUSTICEFORHUNTERANDNOVA.
“No matter what happens in the sense of justice, they’re not going to bring back the two things we want.” Hutchison said. “We don’t feel safe [being near] someone who is capable of doing that.”
Finch said justice also means ensuring this doesn’t happen to more families.
“We want to make people aware you just can’t shoot a dog when it comes on your property: you need to follow the correct steps.” Finch said if they had been called or
notified their dogs were trespassing, they would have immediately come to get them. Each dog had a tag and collar.
“I want people to know how much I loved them,” said Finch. “I won’t forget them, they weren’t just dogs.”
The OPP said police are aware of social media posts by other individuals discussing the matter, but cautioned that the person
responsible for the shooting has not been identified. “The Haliburton Highlands detachment will be investigating any incidents that appear to be in response to this shooting,” the press release states.
The OPP requests anyone with information to call 1-888-310-1122 or contact Crime Stoppers to remain anonymous at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).