A regular walk in the woods on Monday turned into a horrifying ordeal for Valeria Calderoni after her dog was accidentally shot and killed by a hunter in Squamish.
Calderoni, who is the founder of the Canine Valley rehabilitation centre in Squamish, was walking her dog, Kaoru, along with a pack from the centre when she heard a gunshot.
“It was so loud my entire body crouched down,” she said. “I looked up, I saw that Kaoru had been shot.”
Calderoni estimates that the hunter was about six metres away from them at the time of the incident.
She said the hunter told her that he thought Kaoru, a Tamaskan, was a wolf.
The accident happened near Lake Lucille, an area north of Squamish popular with hunters and members of the general public.
They were on a trail that Canine Valley staff said they have often used without incident. The group, Calderoni said, was just heading out of the forest line on Crown land when Kaoru was shot.
Kaoru was a certified therapy dog that Calderoni said was part of the Squamish community. The gentle canine worked with children with autism and people struggling with emotional challenges.
“She helped thousands of people feel happy and relaxed through her many working hours,” Calderoni said.
In February, The Squamish Chief did a story on Kaoru when she was a bride in a dog wedding to raise funds for the Canine Valley kid’s program.
Canine Kids is a program that was developed by Canine Valley to help children understand dogs, teach them awareness and observations skills, physical coordination, emotional intelligence and help raise their confidence.
Calderoni’s hope is that another tragedy like Kaoru’s can be avoided by making hunters more aware of recreational users in the area because “no one deserves to lose their best friend.”
The B.C. Conservation Officer Service (COS) said the hunter is cooperating with the investigation and at this point no charges have been laid.
The hunter’s name has not been released.
“At this point we are investigating the file, we’re making sure we cover everything,” Sgt. Simon Gravel with the COS said.
Calderoni says laws in the area need to be changed to protect the public. She said she plans to pressure government to create a no-hunting zone 400 metres from the highway between Squamish and Whistler.
“There shouldn’t even be any hunting allowed in that area,” she said. “There are so many people there.”
WATCH MORE: Calderoni posts an emotional video about her dog, Kaoru’s death. *WARNING: there is one graphic image
— With files from Rumina Daya