(Update: Interview with dog owner, clarifying owner; petition begun to ban coyote hunting in public areas; county has no leash law)
'We will forever miss our sweet boy,' owner says
REDMOND, Ore. (KTVZ) – Stephen Richardson has gone for walks with his family's two dogs, Mateo and Maverick, off-leash dozens of times in the area near Cline Butte, without any real trouble. But their New Year’s Eve trip turned tragic when someone fatally shot Mateo, her Siberian husky, four times, then sped away.
“We have been there probably 50 times, and never heard gunshots – ever,” the “devastated” dog owner told NewsChannel 21. “Also come across 8-10 hikers with their dogs most of the time.”
Richardson said Mateo, the family's red full-blood Siberian husky, often chases jackrabbits, while his husky lab, Maverick, “doesn’t leave far from my side.”
While off-leash dogs can spark criticism, Richardson said it's a good area for such activity, and that “dogs deserve, when trained, to enjoy their element. He (Mateo) was no more than 100 to 150 yards away from me, and he had his training collar on him.”
He said the person who shot Mateo “was hiding behind a tree and shot him when my dog was about 20 yards from him, as I found the shell casings and footprints in the snow that showed he ran up to my dog after he shot him.”
Richardson said the shooter "then ran to his vehicle and sped out of there as he could hear me screaming, 'I hope you didn't just shoot my dog!' I could hear him peeling out while I was running up to my dog! Heartbreaking!"
While Richardson did not see the person or vehicle, he said it likely was an SUV or pickup – “sounded powerful, and his spin marks show pretty good-sized tires.” He believes her dog may have been mistaken for a coyote.
“We are so heartbroken,” Richardson said. “Many people use the Cline Butte recreation area, the gravel pit road. They all need to be aware and careful!”
"We will forever miss our sweet boy," he wrote on Facebook, where he also posted a link to a GoFundMe page to help pay for cremation costs.
Richardson said Sunday there had been no news on finding whoever shot Mateo. He said, "That dog was like my son. It was just devastating -- devastating."
Stephen Richardson's father, Mark Richardson, posted a comment as well: "The family is hurting so bad. Mateo was the best friend. Most calm, chill dog I've ever seen. … One of the first things learned in hunter safety course, or an avid hunter -- you do not pull (the) trigger unless you know exactly what you're killing."
Richardson's daughter, Savanna Richardson, clarified Sunday that she was not on the walk when the shooting occurred (her father used her Facebook account to spread the word), but said, "It’s the family's dog -- all of ours. We are all going through it. I wouldn’t wish this pain on anyone."
Stephen Richardson's father, Mark Richardson, posted a comment as well: "The family is hurting so bad. Mateo was the best friend. Most calm, chill dog I've ever seen. … One of the first things learned in hunter safety course, or an avid hunter -- you do not pull trigger unless you know exactly what you're killing."
Savanna also has started a petition at change.org, calling for a ban on coyote hunting and shooting in public hiking areas.
"Hunting in any public area is wrong and dangerous and risks people or even children getting shot," she wrote. "There are many designated hunting areas for people to hunt. It makes no sense to us as to why a public hiking area with trails (would allow) hunting in general. Even if it is legal, there should be signs and warnings posted in the hiking area."
Deschutes County sheriff’s Sgt. Aaron Harding said they got the call around 9 a.m. Friday and that deputies have no suspect or suspect vehicle information.
Anyone with information that could help in the investigation was asked to call the sheriff’s office at 541-693-6911, and reference Case No. 21-72336.
Harding said the county has no leash law, but that other government entities such as cities and park districts do have rules or ordinances in place.