Woman suspects hunters shot her dog, believes they were trespassers

Around Arkansas

PULASKI COUNTY, Ark. – A Pulaski County woman is warning dog owners to keep an eye on their pets after her 10-month-old pup was killed by suspected hunters.

It happened on private land and just a few yards away from her 2-year-old child.

Owner McKenna Ricardi says Thursday, she was in her backyard playing with her toddler and Crash Bandicoot, a dog that’s been in the family for nearly a year. When Crash heard a rustling in the woods that backs up against their home, he took off.

Ricardi says her property abuts her neighbor’s land, and that everyone in the area knows Crash and is used to him wandering. She wasn’t initially worried until she heard the gunshots.

“About five minutes later,” Ricardi remembers, “he came back with three gunshots.”

Ricardi believes he was shot by deer hunters, trespassing on private property and hunting out of season. She says she and her neighbors have had problems recently with people wandering onto their land without permission and thinks Crash may have spooked the hunters or was shot for scaring away their prey.

“He had a collar, you could see him,” Ricardi explained, not believing he could have been mistaken for another animal. “He’s white.”

Arkansas Game and Fish officers as well as Pulaski Sheriff’s deputies responded to her home near Pinnacle, trying to find out if the trespassers were poaching and why they would have shot the dog while on private property.

“If it was somebody out there looking to deer hunt, they’re in trouble already,” said Randy Zellers with AGFC. Open dear season with modern guns doesn’t start until Nov. 13, with the only current season focusing on small game like squirrels and rabbits.

Ricardi adds that she believes the shooter returned the next day, driving an ATV and possibly returning to track down a kill. She says the driver tore through her yard almost 24 hours on the dot after her dog was killed.

While the search for answers continues, game officials don’t want to see this happen to another pup or their human. They recommend keeping your pet on a leash if you’re hunting and to make sure to wear loud colors.

“The main thing is that blaze orange or that brightly colored clothing,” Zellers explained, adding they sell collars for dogs in similar neon. He also recommends watching for purple paint while hunting, which will mark private property, and reporting any possible out-of-season kills or poaching to the Game and Fish Commission.

As for Ricardi, she’s preparing for hunting season, too, and the possible return of those who killed her best friend.

“[I’ll] get a whole new home security system because they took the other one,” Ricardi said, referencing Crash.

She adds once they find out who fired the shots, she’ll be pressing charges for trespassing and animal abuse.

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