LOUDOUN CO., VA (WUSA9) - Some dog owners in Loudoun County are angry no charges have been filed against the man who shot and killed a dog in a park.
The owner's dog was walking it off-leash when it ran toward and then jumped near an older man and woman. The man pulled out his 38-revolver and fired.
"She died in my arms. It is extremely painful. She was a good dog," said Susan Susan Smith, 59, sniffing back tears.
Macie was a Labrador-mix, rescue dog was still a puppy at 11 months old, but large at about 50 pounds.
Her last dog, Monty, also a Lab mix, died in January after a lengthy illness. He was an older dog.
"The fact this was a puppy, and, I've never witnessed any life killed in front of my like that. It's just a nightmare. She was my best friend," said Smith.
On Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016, Smith took Macie for her daily walk on the trails of the wildlife sanctuary of Algonkian Regional Park. They joined another walker and her dog; both owners let their dogs off leash because no one was in sight.
When an older man and woman appeared on a trail nearby, the dogs ran toward them. Smith says the other dog stopped, but Macie ran toward the man and starting "dancing" or jumping up behind him.
She says she could see "daylight" between Macie and the man and is sure her dog did not touch or jump on the man.
Suddenly he yelled, "Call your dog! Call your dog!" Smith recalls. "I started to run and call for my dog. Maybe ten seconds went by. I saw his arm go down, I saw his arm cross his body and he fired."
Smith says she yelled to man what kind of gun it was, thinking it was just a cap gun.
"It's real. A 38 revolver," Smith said the man told her. She saw an entrance and exit wound on her dog's torso, and Macie was bleeding profusely. Smith leaned over and held Macie until her last breath. She was dead in five minutes.
A young man carried Macie's body the half-mile trek back to the road. Smith says she was in hysterics and called 911 for an ambulance. That ambulance wound up taking the man's wife for treatment, Smith recalled.
As the man walked by her as she hunched over her dead dog near the road, she said he looked down and said, "I'm sorry for your loss."
The man waited in his car for a Loudoun Animal Services investigator.
Director Nina Stively says the man was not charged because they determined there was no "willful act of cruelty." Stively says the man felt threatened by the 50 pound dog off leash "less than three feet away."
She calls the incident "a tragedy all the way around." Stively would not release the man's name and would only say that he was legally allowed to carry the weapon.
Smith and other dog owners in Sterling are outraged.
"Scott" who didn't want his last named used said, "I just think it's important for gun owners to be responsible. And I think this particular incident may have showed some irresponsibility on the part of the gun owners."
Dogs are supposed to be leashed at all times in the park. Other rules include no hunting or all hold. But guns are legal.
"You can't crack a beer down at the park pavilion but you can pop a dog with your gun!" Smith said.
Virginia State Police do the initial background check before a concealed weapons permit is issued. But it's the circuit court in the county that issues or takes away the permit. But because there are no charges in this case, any permit review is not expected to happen.