A family is mourning the loss of their dog killed by their neighbor


GULF COUNTY Fla. (WMBB) — A family is mourning the loss of their one-year-old rat terrier dog who was killed by their neighbor. 

On Saturday, the Hale family went fishing and returned home to see their dog had gone missing.

They were not expecting to hear their neighbor admitting to the shooting, killing, and burning of their dog.

The Hale family said they knew something was wrong when they returned home Monday and did not see little Sawyer’s best friend, a three-pound dog named Coco.

“It started getting dark, we were like, where is she,” said Cecily Hale, Sawyers’s older sister.

Dennis Hale drove to neighbors houses asking if they had seen Coco.

One neighbor said yes, and he had shot their dog.

“I would never kill anyone’s dog, but to keep the collar, something isn’t right,” said Dennis Hale.

Hale decided to call Sheriff Mike Harrison, who sent deputies.

At the time, the suspect heard a commotion in the backyard and said the dog attacked a chicken.

“He went inside and retrieved a firearm, and went outside and the dog had another chicken down, and as he went to separate the chickens from the dog,” said Sheriff Harrison. “The dog was aggressive towards him.”

Harrison said that is when the suspect shot the dog but said that is not all he did, he also decided to burn the carcass.

“Coyotes, what if they killed them and then Coco ran over there,” said Cecily Hale. “It could be anything. And I really do not think she would have killed any, I have four ducks, never touched them, she would smell them and run away from them. He did this on purpose.”

The Hale family thinks the suspect killed Coco on purpose, she was less than five pounds and skittish towards people.

Sheriff Harrison said there is a law in Gulf County that protects livestock.

“In a review of the Florida statutes and consultation with the state attorney, there is no crime that was committed here,” said Harrison.

“My daughter brought it up and said, “Dad, Coco was the best dog we ever had,” and she was right, said Hale.

News 13 reached out to the neighbor who shot the dog and left a message, but there has been no response at this time.

The Hale family said although they will still be mourning the loss of Coco, they are looking into getting Sawyer a new best friend.

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