Family still searching for answers after dog’s death
By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor
On Jan. 19, Maren Reed came home to a site no pet owner ever wants to see. One of her family’s 5-year-old Great Pyrenees dogs, Buck, had been shot and killed in their yard.
Due to the breed’s tendency to wander, as they were bred to cover large areas of land and drive large herds of cattle, Reed said Buck and his brother, Billy, were rotated each day, with one of them tied up, while the other was loose. With one tied up, Reed said the other wouldn’t go anywhere without his brother. On that fateful day, Buck was loose.
“When I got home, I was calling his name and calling his name,” she said. “I thought, ‘Something’s not right.’”
At first, Reed said she assumed he might be sleeping somewhere, tired after a long night of barking at the wild animals that live near the family’s home, which is located in rural McGregor, past Pike’s Peak. When calling for him didn’t work, Reed got some dog food to entice him. It was on her trip to deliver the food that she found him, balled up, near one of the property’s out-buildings. About 40 yards away, she saw blood on the ground. It wasn’t until Buck was going to be taken for cremation that they saw he had been shot through the ribs.
Reed assumed Buck was shot from 60 to 70 yards away, from the nearby gravel road. She said it’s difficult to believe it was an accident, as no one should have been hunting nearby. Even if someone was, she said it would be hard to mistake Buck for another woodland creature.
“They don’t bark or run at cars or bother anybody. The neighbors know them well,” Reed said of Buck and Billy. “I could almost understand if someone was provoked or if he was on someone’s property, but it had to be a totally random act. It just makes no sense.”
Despite their size, Reed said the two brothers were actually quite gentle, especially Buck.
“Buck had one speed, and that was slow motion,” she said with a smile. “They know they have a lot of weight to throw around, so they’re very gentle. They’re like big, cuddly bears.”
Reed said the dogs were also attentive to her son and daughter, walking them to the bus in the morning and meeting them when they returned home in the afternoon. If the kids walked through the woods or rode their bikes, the dogs would join them. Reed said it was comforting to have dogs like that.
“You have to realize that they’re not just working dogs who keep animals away,” she said. “They’re family members and loyal, trustworthy companions.”
Reed said Buck’s brother, Billy, who was never once parted from Buck during their five years, has taken the death hard. Initially, he wouldn’t eat his food unless beef gravy was poured on top of it.
Hoping to find some answers, Reed started a Facebook page, entitled “Justice for Buck.” The page currently has 634 “likes” and features hundreds of encouraging comments and vows of support. Unfortunately, now one month later, it hasn’t yielded many leads. Reed said she’s been tipped off to a couple of suspicions, but that nothing has panned out. She said Clayton County Sheriff Mike Tschirgi was also contacted. While he empathized with their situation, he said there’s not much the sheriff’s office can do but keep their ears open.
For now, she is hoping that someone will talk at some point. Even if the answers never come, Reed said she has been humbled by the outpouring of support.
“It’s overwhelming to look [at the page] and see the number of people who feel the exact same way about their pets,” she said.
She also hopes this experience will help raise awareness. Reed keeps a vigilant eye on Billy and advises others to do the same for their pets.
“I don’t want money. I’m not expecting a miracle,” she said, “but an apology or explanation would be nice. Now, I just want to try to help other people.”