Suffield, CT, United States (4E Sports) – Few weeks have already passed since his three hunting beagles were shot dead by a hunter but Connecticut resident Richard Johnson is still mourning their loss.
The 83-year-old Johnson was together with his son and five beagles hunting rabbits and pheasants in Suffield when the incident occurred.
According to Johnson, a hunter in a tree stand allegedly shot three of the five dogs they brought along on the journey.
“The pack took off after some rabbits, and only two of them came back,” Johnson told The Republican. “They came back scared like something had happened, and sure enough, it did. It’s just on my mind all the time now. It doesn’t wear off.”
Johnson’s son, Shelton, said while it’s not unusual for the dogs to take off for an extended period of time during a hunt, this time, he knew something went wrong.
Johnson said the three deceased dogs, named Peaches, Otis and Juliette, were the leaders of the hunting pack.
He raised them alongside five other beagles to help deliver to him rabbits and pheasants during hunting season.
“We would go out hunting together on the weekends, and the dogs just have their own way of bringing the rabbits right to you,” Shelton said. “My dad would train them for years, and he treated them like his kids. He loves those dogs. This just isn’t right. It’s horrible.”
Lt. Richard Brown of the Suffield Police Department has confirmed that the shooter was a licensed 13-year-old hunter, who was being supervised by his father during the time of the shooting.
However, charges could not be brought against the minor because of a statute that allows for dogs to be shot if they are going after certain animals, such as livestock.
“We are country cops and responsible for dealing with hunters, but I wanted to consult DEP on this one to tap into their expertise,” Brown said.
But Brown said charges may be forthcoming for the adult based on conversations he expects to have with state attorneys in the coming days.
Johnson said he isn’t a vindictive man and just wants to be reimbursed for his investment in the dogs, so he can try to move on.
“I try to feel for everybody, but this is just too much to bear sometimes,” Johnson said. “Peaches, Otis and Juliette are gone, and they didn’t deserve this. They all had collars on with my number, so why couldn’t they just call and tell me what happened?”
However, Shelton believes that simple reimbursement is not enough to compensate for his father’s loss.
“They don’t have to see the way my father is hurt. We see it every day,” he said. “We went out hunting last week, and he just sat there. It isn’t the same. I hope he is around for many more years, but you just don’t know. This could have ruined his favorite sport for him.”