By Moses Leos III
The shooting death of a dog in Mountain City has ignited concerns of a firearm being discharged in a residential neighborhood.
As Kim Johnson and her family grieve the loss of their dog, Miah, they now seek to find those responsible for her death.
“We are in fear and concerned that any children or animals could be in danger of this cruel person who was willing to shoot a gun close to homes,” Johnson said in an email sent to Mountain City Mayor Tiffany Curnutt.
The incident occurred on August 21 between 6 and 7 p.m. That was when Johnson and her family attended back to school night.
During that time, Johnson said her two dogs somehow got out of their backyard fence; she speculates both dogs were roaming in the front yard of their property on Pin Oak Drive.
It was at this time that Johnson’s neighbor, Larry Walsh, who lives across the street, heard a “crack.” He believes the sound came from behind his home, which has open land.
“It had to have been a .22 rifle,” Walsh said. “You can tell between a pistol and a shotgun. They make a different sound than .22. It has as shrill crack to it.”
Walsh, who let out his cat around 6:40 that night, went to check up on things.
“I go out the door … and I hear one of their dogs barking, while the other was yelping … it wasn’t a bark or cry, but a soft yelp,” he said.
Walsh said he didn’t think much about it until the Johnson’s other dog wanted back in the gate. As he approached the yard, he noticed Miah laying in the Johnson’s front yard.
He was met at the gate by Johnson’s mother-in-law, Evelyn “Spooky” Chiles. Both noticed some blood coming from the dog’s abdomen. However, Walsh said there was no blood trail or bullet casing in the yard. He also said there was “no one around” when the incident happened.
“If someone had shot from a car, I would have never seen them,” he said.
Johnson received a call about the incident around 7 p.m. The family rushed home to find punctures on both sides of Miah’s abdomen.
Immediately, the family rushed the dog to an emergency veterinary clinic in Austin. Veterinarians suspected it was a single bullet wound.
During that time, Chiles reported the shooting to the Hays County Sheriff’s Office. They found out a different set of neighbors had called animal control on both dogs.
“They said they were being aggressed by a black dog, and a white dog was with it,” Johnson said.
Johnson said Miah, a Border Collie mix, seemed aggressive, but hasn’t bitten anyone. She also said her dogs have never exited their yard without a family member present.
In the email, Johnson said the family routinely checks their fences.
Veterinarians attempted surgery to save Miah, but were unsuccessful.
In an emailed response, HCSO Sergeant Phillp Taylor said the case is currently under investigation. He said the HCSO Animal Control Unit is following up with residents.
However, due to the Hays County Animal Control Ordinance, the HCSO is unsure if they have an animal cruelty case or a “dog at large ‘unrestrained dog’” case.
The HCSO informed the family the legalities of the ordinance.
“We explained to her the fact that people have the right to defend themselves if they are being attacked,” Taylor said. “We don’t know if that’s happened, or it’s a malicious incident.”
However, Taylor wouldn’t specify to whom the HCSO has spoken. He said they are “talking to numerous people in the neighborhood.”
Since the incident, Johnson contacted Curnutt; the city then emailed an alert on Wednesday, asking residents for any information.
“The fact that a firearm was discharged inside our city limits is incredibly alarming,” the email said in part. “Our children, pets and loved ones play out in our yards we shouldn’t have to worry about a resident or neighbor doing such a thing…especially on our own property.”
Johnson wrote in her email the incident is “accepted as an intentional act and personal attack on us and our family.”
Now, she and the city ask for the neighborhood’s help in finding those responsible.
“It’s been hard. We only had [Miah] for a year. But you get to the point where they are an everyday part of your life,” she said.