dog

Dog survives shooting, burning in Worland

2013-02-18T06:00:00Z 2013-02-18T11:47:04Z Dog survives shooting, burning in WorlandBy KELLY BYER Star-Tribune staff writer Casper Star-Tribune Online
February 18, 2013 6:00 am  • 

Bo the dog came home with a bang.

Hearing a thud, Abby Redland opened her door, and her three-year-old blue heeler bolted inside. He was bleeding from his face and back and appeared to be covered in mud.

“You could see in his eyes, he just, he needed help and he knew it,” she said.

As Bo calmed down, Abby and her husband could smell fuel and realized it was not mud but third-degree burns covering the dog’s small body.

“His hair was still melting together and falling out,” she said. “He was literally still smoldering.”

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Earlier that day, Redland’s neighbors Genieveve Gerber and her 18-year-old son, Wesley, returned from nearby Worland with Chinese food. It was shortly after noon on Saturday, Dec. 15.

As they pulled into the driveway, they spotted a dog in the chicken coop southwest of their house. The Gerbers had previously lost chickens to dog attacks. Now the chickens, turkeys and ducks had flocked to a corner of their pen and were squawking in fear.

Wesley grabbed his .17-caliber rifle and ran around the house, stopping at the northeast corner. The dog jumped the coop’s 3-foot-high wire fence and ran toward Wesley, who shouldered his rifle and took aim.

A shot sounded in the crisp air and the bullet pierced the dog’s cheek. Wesley’s second shot hit the dog in the back and struck it down. Its slight frame dropped to the ground between the birds’ enclosure and Wesley.

“He didn’t think twice about, he was protecting our home,” said his father, Mike Gerber, in his son’s defense.

Wesley saw the dog’s red rabies tag, realized it wasn’t a stray and panicked, according to a report filed later with the Washakie County sheriff.

The dog was Bo.

Wesley dragged the dog out of the backyard, away from the Gerbers’ two-year-old Airedale, Bella, and carried the gun inside to ask his father what to do.

Wesley’s shots had awoken the elder Gerber, asleep after working a late shift. Thinking the dog was dead, Mike Gerber told his son to get rid it the same way the family had disposed of their 45 chickens killed between October and December.

“I said ‘burn it’ because we have had other predators come around, and even our chickens that the dog had killed, how we got rid of them was we just burned them,” he said.

So Wesley grabbed the dog by the scruff, carried him less than 20 yards, and put him in the burn barrel that stands alone in the Gerbers’ front yard.

Wesley doused the supposedly dead dog in gasoline and lit a match.

“The next thing you know, the dog comes popping up out of there in flames,” Mike Gerber said.

Gerber had come outside in his housecoat previous to the burning of the dog  and watched from a distance as the very alive dog ran in a flaming circle.

Wesley, who has been hunting for 12 years, had never seen anything like it, according to the sheriff’s report. He thought Bo was a “devil dog” when he jumped out of the barrel.

The Gerbers ran inside to get their gun and truly put the dog down, but when they got back outside, it was gone.

Less than 10 minutes had passed since the family had nothing on their minds but a Chinese meal.

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The Gerbers tearfully went to the police about 2:45 p.m., more than two hours after the incident. Mike Gerber said they spent that time thinking and praying about what to do about shooting and burning their neighbor’s dog.

“I wish it never happened,” he said. “The decisions being made were made fast. Maybe if they would’ve been thought through more clearly, we would’ve done things differently.”

The Gerbers said Bo had “tormented” their chickens, although no chickens were harmed the day Bo was shot and burned at 873 West River Road. The Gerbers haven’t lost any birds since two were killed Dec. 13 — two days before the incident.

Under Wyoming law, dogs can be killed if they threaten or harm livestock.

But Redland said she never witnessed Bo return home with blood or feathers on him and received no prior complaints. She often saw her dog playing with the Gerbers’, either at her home or theirs.

On Dec. 15, she didn’t realize Bo left the property. Her trailer house sits about 300 yards southwest of the Gerbers’ home, across a field.

No criminal charges have been filed against the Gerbers, and the Washakie County Attorney’s office refused to comment on the case.

Redland says she may pursue a civil lawsuit to pay for more than $2,500 in veterinary bills. She and her husband were planning to move, but will do so sooner due to Bo’s injuries and the fear of what could happen outside her door.

“It’s not about them shooting him. They had every right to shoot him if he was in their chickens. We understand that,” she said. “It’s the fact that they burned him and then they did nothing for two and a half hours.”

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Minutes after Bo thumped against the Redlands’ front door, Steven Tharp received a anguished call. The veterinarian could barely recognize Redland’s garbled voice, he said, but knew it was an emergency. The Redlands rushed the dog to the vet, with Abby’s husband still in sweatpants and slippers.

“And here came Bo,” Tharp said. “He was semi-comatose, in frantic pain, flailing.”

The dog smelled like burnt hair. His body language showed he was in shock, as were his owners.

Tharp pumped fluids into Bo’s veins and gave the dog a heavy-duty pain medication equivalent to morphine.

The medicine didn’t help. Bo spent the next 24 hours at the clinic under anesthesia. Tharp and his staff covered the dog in ice and stitched up his face, but the wound in his back was too large to close.

The veterinarian initially doubted Bo would recover, but after examining the dog, his outlook improved. The dog’s worst burns were on his belly and back legs, but blue heelers have a thick undercoat that protected his top half from burns.

Bo stayed in the clinic six more days. He couldn’t make the 6-inch step into the clinic’s kennels, so he was given a bed on the floor.

“He was able to walk, but he wasn’t able to bend his legs at all because of the burns in between them,” Abby Redland said. “So he kind of walked really stiff-legged.”

She spent a few hours visiting with Bo each day, even though she couldn’t touch him. When Tharp discharged Bo, the dog returned every few days for checkups and remained heavily medicated for weeks.

Bo was unable to lie down on his own for 44 days, and Redland said he would cry at times because of the pain. His hair continued to fall out, exposing the damaged skin that blistered and fell off, like the tips of both his swollen ears.

After five laser treatments and ongoing checkups, the dog’s condition improved. “He just slowly healed,” Redland said, but Bo never lost his friendly temperament.

Bo, now short-furred with cropped ears, eagerly marks his territory and greets strangers with a wag of his tail, two bullets and one burning later.

Reach city reporter Kelly Byer at 307-266-0639 or kelly.byer@trib.com.

Follow her on Twitter @KellyByer.

Copyright 2015 Casper Star-Tribune Online. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(13) Comments

  1. Rawhide
    Report Abuse
    Rawhide - February 22, 2013 1:36 pm
    If your dog,horse,bull,etc,etc threatens you or your pets or property you have the right to kill it...NOT torcher it to death...
  2. Rawhide
    Report Abuse
    Rawhide - February 22, 2013 11:20 am
    What's up with this...it's being reported all across the country...in different states people are shooting and burning dogs...are we that EF d in the head anymore...or is this the type of nation we've become...I'm no bunny hugger...but come on...my point is...this is happening all across this country...
  3. yup
    Report Abuse
    yup - February 20, 2013 11:59 am
    What kind of sick person burns an animal alive? This kid sounds like Jeffrey Dahmer. Is it really that hard to jump in a chicken coop and grab the dog. Why shoot it in the first place?
  4. Wyoite
    Report Abuse
    Wyoite - February 20, 2013 2:18 am
    Russ- it's not a BB gun. You're thinking of a .177 pellet, which wouldn't wake the Dad. Synergizer- you are either assuming it's an .17 HMR, or you know the family that tortured this dog. Lots of .17 cal cartridges out there, why assume it's an HMR and not a Hornet, Fireball, Hm2, etc.?

    We live in Wyoming, dogs get shot for being in livestock all the time. Usually it is followed by a courtesy phone call telling the owner their dog was shot in the livestock and to come pick up the body.

    This goes way beyond shooting a "devil dog" and his story doesn't add up. Horrible. Sounds to me like they shot the neighbors dog and were ashamed so they tried to destroy the dog rather than tell the neighbor. Hopefully the county prosecutor wakes up and puts this sick 18 year old and his father in prison under 6-3-203 for 6 months. Regardless, this young adult will be shunned like the plague once the national media pick this up . . .
  5. Whitey Kincaid
    Report Abuse
    Whitey Kincaid - February 19, 2013 9:47 pm
    Keep the dog home and none of this happens. These folks are lucky their stupid dog lives another day--probably to kill somebody else's chickens...
  6. Rural life
    Report Abuse
    Rural life - February 19, 2013 8:15 am
    They NEVER saw Bo kill a chicken! Guilty without a trial? These people locked their dog up after the incident, hmmmmm, no more dead chickens!
  7. side oiler
    Report Abuse
    side oiler - February 19, 2013 7:36 am
    Agreed,an eye for an eye.
  8. side oiler
    Report Abuse
    side oiler - February 19, 2013 7:35 am
    Using your logic,the .223,you know,the round that all knuckle draggers love so much,is a pellet too.
  9. Synergizerer
    Report Abuse
    Synergizerer - February 19, 2013 6:34 am
    If you want to get technical... Here is the ballistics chart for the 17 HMR. Clearly not a BB gun. Range 50yds Drop 0.2896" Velocity 2062fps Energy 189lbs Time 68ms

    If I was going to be shooting at anything that was trying to kill my chickens knowing there were houses withing 250 yards, I would pick this gun. But then again, I know what its capable of. Like I said - clearly not a BB gun.

    You burn a corpse to keep other predators from being attracted to it. Why would you shoot something and then leave it lay? Knowing its the neighbors dog... that's pretty twisted, but if you are simply trying to protect your chickens - they did the right thing. I'm not saying they made the right choice but screaming for punishment before you even take the time to think about what you would do in the same position is ignorant.
  10. Casper Proud
    Report Abuse
    Casper Proud - February 19, 2013 5:49 am
    I saw the pictures on facebook, horrible burns, and to know that the dog suffered that much. I hope these people get the Karma they deserve.
  11. Russ1
    Report Abuse
    Russ1 - February 18, 2013 5:49 pm
    Just as a clarification, a ".17 caliber rifle" is literally a BB gun, and those "bullets" are BBs. In line with that, it's a little hard to believe an average-sized dog would appear to be dead after being hit by a couple of BBs. Just the thought that the neighbor would prefer to burn the dog instead of presenting the "corpse" to the owners is also hard to fathom. I'd move, too. Too rednecky a neighborhood for my taste...
  12. Suzie-Q
    Report Abuse
    Suzie-Q - February 18, 2013 5:34 pm
    Why did the County Attorney refuse comment? What kind of an animal burns another animal? I do not believe for a second that just "suddenly" a neighboring dog decided to mess with their chickens. This wreaks of "shove it under the rug". Shame on you, County Attorney!!!
  13. Jeffrey
    Report Abuse
    Jeffrey - February 18, 2013 3:42 pm
    If I were the dog's owner, I wouldn't rest until these people were prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Shooting a dog is one thing, but this is simply animal cruelty!!!!!!!
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