Family dog found shot in backyard

Posted at 9:20 PM, Mar 18, 2014
and last updated 2014-03-19 18:56:19-04

SUMMIT COUNTY -- A beloved family pet was shot and killed in the backyard of a Summit County home on Monday.

Tom and Sherry Weaver say their 4-year-old dog, Burley, was found dead around 5:30 p.m. Their daughter had let the dog out around 4:15 p.m.

"Everybody loved him that met him, he never hurt anybody," Tom Weaver told FOX 13 News.

He said his neighborhood is dog friendly and can't imagine who would have killed his dog.

When he first saw Burley's lifeless body, Tom Weaver noticed small amounts of blood on the ground, but didn't immediately realize the dog had been shot.

"After I found him here, I called the vet and he said, ‘well, bring him in.’

“I left him there, and the vet called me later in the night and told me he'd been shot by a pellet gun,” Tom Weaver said.

X-rays taken by the vet clearly show four pellets in the dog's body. One is near the dog's spine, and two others appear to have penetrated the dog's chest cavity.

A small park abuts a portion of the Weaver’s property in the backyard, and they suspect that's where the shots came from.

The Weaver's named Burley after the town in Idaho where they found him at a shelter about four years ago.

"He was probably a golden retriever, black lab mix. He had a lot of energy. Sweet," Sherry Weaver said.

The Weavers have lived in their current home for 15 years and have never had a problem with anyone in what they always considered a dog-friendly neighborhood.

Neighbors spread posters throughout the area, and online, Tuesday. Local authorities are also investigating.

"This is a tragedy. It's hard when somebody loses a member of their family. And we want to find out who did this," said Brian Bellamy, director of the Summit County Animal Control Agency.

Bellamy said the pellets will be removed from the dog's body for evidence.

The Humane Society of Utah also offered a reward Tuesday.

"A $3,000 reward for information that would lead to an arrest and a conviction in this case," said communication director Carl Arky.

Torture of an animal, including the killing of domesticated pets, is against the law in Utah. Criminal charges vary depending upon circumstances.

"It's up to the jurisdictions, it's up to the prosecutors, it's up to the judges as to how they want to enforce that rule, but there are felony statutes on the books," Arky said.

Anyone with information about Burley's death is encouraged to contact Summit County Animal Control at 435-615-3985.