RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – A beloved family dog was shot and killed in his own backyard. His owners said four and a half-year old Cooper was shot four times on Saturday night. The pit bull's injuries were so devastating; they had to put him down.
Just before midnight Saturday, Richmond Police officers got a call for random gunfire. When they got to the scene, they found a woman clinging to her dying dog.
It is a loss almost too difficult to bear.
"He was a real big part of the family," explained Kaitlen Roane. "I feel like I'm mourning the death of my child."
Roane's description of the yard where Cooper was shot and the path he took to reach safety in the home is gruesome.
"The whole entire house looked like a massacre had happened," she said. "Everything was covered in blood."
That night Kaitlen didn't hear barking, but gunshots. She called the police when her pit bull came inside critically injured. She rushed him to the Carytown emergency vet center, where she learned it would cost about $6,000 for the first 24 hours of care with no guarantee he'd survive. Cooper was put down just four hours later.
Police collected shell casings and witness descriptions from the scene. Kaitlen said Cooper was never aggressive but some of her neighbors don't like the breed and had threatened the dog before.
"It looks like a vicious hate crime," she maintained.
We asked Dr. Nathan Lippo if that fear of the breed is warranted.
"The aggression is something that has to be trained to them or ignored in them," he explained. "If you train them well, if you give them the tools they need, they'll be very, very loving pets."
Police told NBC12 one witness gave a vague suspect description of a person wearing a dark jacket with a gold emblem on the back running from the scene.
This isn't Cooper's first brush with the law. Kaitlen called police when he was shot with a BB gun about six months ago.