Susan R. Smith lost her best companion this week — a black Labrador mix — after a man shot and killed her in a park.
Smith said she was walking her 10-month-old dog, Macie, on Tuesday afternoon along with a friend and the friend’s dog at Algonkian Regional Park, near her home in Loudoun County.
Smith, of Sterling, said she had Macie off her leash, which she acknowledges is in violation of county rules. They came upon a couple walking toward them on a path, and when her dog began to jump behind the man, he shot and killed it, Smith said.
The man was not charged and Loudoun County Animal Services officials said their investigation found that the man acted in self-defense after the two dogs were “behaving aggressively.”
The man had a license to carry a concealed weapon in Virginia, authorities said. He could not be reached to comment.
Smith recalled the events that left her holding Macie as she died in her arms.
Smith said her dog approached the couple and jumped in the air. She said the dog was leaping behind the man but was not barking at the time.
At that point, the man yelled out, “Call your dog,” Smith said. “He said it once, maybe twice.”
Smith said she and her friend then started running toward the dogs, who were about 20 yards away.
“We called for our dogs,” Smith said. Then she said she saw the man’s arm “go to his side” and across his body. “He sees us coming,” she said. The man pulled out a gun and fired it at the dog.
When the gun went off, Smith said she asked the man if it was a cap gun. “He said, ‘No it is a real gun.’ ” Hysterical, she said, she called 911. A wounded Macie slowly came to Smith, then lay on the path, taking her last breaths in Smith’s arms. Smith said the couple waited in their car for police and animal control authorities to arrive.
As the couple walked past her, she said, one of them apologized for her loss.
Smith said she wishes the man would have used other methods to scare her dog away, such as firing a warning shot, kicking her or swinging a stick. She said she misses Macie jumping on her bed each morning to wake her. “She was my constant companion,” she said.
“She doesn’t even bark at a doorbell,” Smith said. “It was unnecessary to shoot her. It was poor judgment.”
Animal services officials said in a statement that “two large-breed dogs” had been walking off their leashes and were “behaving aggressively towards a man who was walking in the park.”
Animal services investigators found that Macie “circled and jumped up on the walker and that the dogs’ owner failed to secure them despite the walker’s repeated requests.” Officials said the man was “legally carrying a firearm when he discharged it in an act of self-defense, fatally shooting the dog.”
Authorities said no charges would be filed in the case.
“I could be ugly and call him up,” Smith said of the man who fired the shot. “But he was within his rights. It is not going to bring my dog back.”