Henry the border collie is at home with his family after undergoing surgery this week to amputate his front leg and shoulder.
The dog and its pooch pal Floyd had escaped the Shawnigan Lake Road yard of owners Ashley Philp and Desi Cummings on Saturday morning and ended up a few streets over on the McKernan Road property of sheep rancher Peter Pronk.
It was there Pronk shot Henry with a high-powered rifle.
“I was in a very bad position where I was between two dogs and a flock of 24 sheep,” Pronk explained. “I had chased the dogs off the property twice and they kept coming back. I had not expected them to come back but I was nervous about the fact that there were two instead of one dog coming up the driveway.”
He said he’d thrown rocks at the animals in an attempt to get them to leave but it didn’t work.
“When the dog approached for the third time, I had no more options. I’d run out of options, I didn’t know what to do,” Pronk said. “As a farmer we love animals. We don’t like shooting anything.”
Section 11.1 of B.C.’s Livestock Act says that a person may kill a dog if the person finds the dog “running at large” and “attacking or viciously pursuing livestock,” but authorities — the Shawnigan Lake RCMP and the BC SPCA — are still investigating if the trigger was pulled with just cause.
Pronk was arrested but as of Thursday had not been charged.
“We’ve conducted a number of interviews and we will be looking at recommending charges to Crown council. We are also working in collaboration with the RCMP so the two agencies need to merge our information,” BC SPCA senior constable Tina Heary said. “We are trying to move fast on this one for sure. It’s got public attention and it is a serious matter and RCMP removed the firearms from the individual so there was an element of a public safety risk.”
Philip, who has been active in chronicling her family’s ordeal on Facebook, said the dogs got out around 9 a.m. and within minutes the family was searching for them. It wasn’t until closer to 11:30 a.m. that they got a devastating call from the veterinarian’s office in Mill Bay.
Henry had been seriously injured.
“There was no saving Henry’s left leg,” Philp said. “We either had to amputate it or put him down.”
The SPCA offered to pay Henry’s medical costs if the couple surrendered him. With the idea of paying for the amputation too daunting, and equally unsettling was the thought of putting their family pet down, the pair decided to surrender Henry so he could get the medical attention he needed — even if it meant a new forever home.
But a go-fund-me page set up by friends of the family aimed to raise the funds needed to pay the vet bill so Henry could go home to his rightful family.
“Decisions needed to happen quickly so at first the dog came into SPCA care and they then subsequently raised the funds for the medical costs so we returned the dog to them,” Heary confirmed.
Within three days, the fundraisers raised enough for both the surgery and for follow-up appointments.
Earlier this week, the pooch went home.
“Words cannot express how grateful and appreciative we are to all our friends, family and community,” Philp said. “We are truly blessed to have each and every one of you in our lives.”
Heary noted that in rural areas farm shootings do occur.
“I don’t know statistics but certainly it does happen and has happened,” she said. “In any rural community, unfortunately it does happen.”