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December 21, 2008
Salem News

Deer season not dog season

To the editor:

Lyle, a 2 year old black lab, was shot and killed by a deer hunter on Dave and Jackie Smith's Stone Gate Farm just west of Guilford Lake. The incident occurred on the second day of gun season on Tuesday evening on Dec. 2 between 5 and 5:10 when all hunting should have ceased because it was after sunset.

Lyle's friendly and inquisitive nature made him a much loved member of the Smith family. He and the two other farm dogs accompanied Dave at 4:45 in the afternoon to the field, as they often do, while Dave cleaned up brush. A gunshot was heard nearby shortly after 5 p.m. and one of the other dogs came running back with his tail between his legs. Dave was concerned by his behavior and was even more concerned when Lyle didn't return with him. Lyle was almost always with a family member since he also lived with us in the house he never wandered out of the immediate neighborhood.

We searched for him that Tuesday night and again on Wednesday to no avail. To help our efforts we placed ads in the local papers, posted fliers, called numerous people who lived near our farm, contacted UPS and the US Postal service and asked them to keep an eye out for him (he loved the UPS man). We were hopeful that he would somehow return to us especially since he had his name and our phone number on his collar.

We received a few calls but it wasn't him. Unfortunately on Saturday, Dec. 6, we received the dreaded call that a dog matching his description was seen in a ditch on Mountz Road near Rochester Road-nearly five miles from home.

Our son Kevin retrieved Lyle and buried him. Lyle was frozen solid and Kevin assumed that he was hit by a car, although we wondered why he was so far from home, and he did not notice the gunshot wound. Dave had been out of town and upon returning decided to rebury him next to a favorite horse. At this time it was discovered that he had been shot. Since Dave is a veterinarian he carefully examined the wound and it was obvious, based on the angle of entry, that this was done at close range and was a "kill shot" with the dog looking the shooter in the eye. Knowing Lyle, he was probably giving him an enthusiastic greeting as he did with everyone he met.

The shooter had to know that Dave was near because he was running a chain saw. In all likelihood he realized his grievous error in judgment and decided to remove the evidence, our dog. The hunter probably wasn't alone as Lyle weighed 70 pounds and probably needed help to get him out of the woods and back to their vehicle. The hunters tried to cover their tracks further by removing his collar and dumping him in a ditch five miles away in hopes that we wouldn't find him and if we did it would appear that he was hit by a car.

Hunters are required to have the written permission to hunt on private property form with them,, signed by landowner. The hunters were on our property without permission and the adjoining property is posted. The only people who have permission to hunt on our property are our immediate neighbors and we know that they were not responsible. Trespassing is subject to a $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail. A $2,500 reward is being offered by The Ohio Farm Bureau for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for "the malicious injury of property," our beloved dog. If you have any information, please contact Deputy McGee at 330-424-7255.

There is still one weekend remaining in deer season, please be vigilant and keep your dogs and other animals inside as you don't know who might be lurking in your woods.





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