Dog gunned down by hunter |

Dog gunned down by hunter

Dustin Racioppi
Contributed by Dave PerronCrowley, a chocolate Labrador owned by Edwards resident Dave Perron, was shot and killed Wednesday by an out-of-state hunter

EDWARDS, CO” When Dave Perron landed Friday for a six-hour layover in Miami from his vacation in Tobago, he got some of the worst news he could imagine.

His best friend, Crowley, died.

It wasn’t just that he died, it was how.

Crowley, Perron’s 2 1/2-year-old chocolate Labrador, went for a hike with Perron’s lifelong friend and roommate, Nathan Schroepfer, Wednesday afternoon at West Lake Creek Trail in Edwards.

They spent a couple hours walking and “screwing around in the snow having a good time,” Schroepfer said. When he decided to turn around and head back, Schroepfer said Crowley darted past him with a stick in his mouth.

“He was having a great time,” Schroepfer, 33, said. “The dog was as happy as he could be.”

But then Crowley was out of Schroepfer’s sight, about 15 or 20 feet away by a tree. That was the last time he would see Crowley so happy.

“As he rounded that tree, I heard a gunshot,” he said. “I heard a yelp after the shot and Crowley ran off. I saw him cough up a bunch of blood and fall over.”

Just a few feet away from where the shot happened, Schroepfer saw a man, about 300 pounds, he said, and he realized the man shot Crowley.

“I’m not sure what he said, something like it was self-defense, which is a bunch of b.s.,” Schroepfer said, because Crowley, who was shot in the side from behind, was the happiest and least harmful dog he ever knew. “I was going off on the guy, yelling, ‘It’s a dog! It’s a dog! It was a pretty traumatic 20 minutes on the side of that hill.”

The man, who Schroepfer said was with a group of hunters from Wisconsin, didn’t help make the situation any easier. He couldn’t be reached for comment Saturday night, but Eagle County sheriff spokeswoman Shannon Cordingly said the hunter told police he feared for his life when he saw the dog.

“What really pissed me off was he didn’t want to help and he didn’t show much remorse,” Schroepfer said. “He seemed more intent on getting up the hill and hunt more than helping me. He said, ‘I have dogs back home. Just take the collar off and leave it for the coyotes.’ It was incredible, just a disregard for a dog and a life.”

So the 5-foot-10-inch, 165 pound Schroepfer lifted the 115 pound dog into his arms and headed down the hill, blood covering his pants and running into the snow. He got to a certain point where he couldn’t carry Crowley anymore, so he covered him up and left. He met one of the hunters in the group, he said, and told him what happened.

“He said, ‘I didn’t hear a shot,'” Schroepfer said, then replied, “Take a look at me.”

He had to leave Crowley in the woods overnight until he could rally help from friends and neighbors the next morning to retrieve the body, which they then took Steve’s Dog and Cat Repair in Edwards.

Meanwhile, Schroepfer talked to police and the Division of Wildlife. And Crowley’s owner and friend, was thousands of miles away, unknowing.

When Perron and his girlfriend got the news in Miami, he said they sat in the airport and cried the entire time of the layover.

“It was a nightmare. We were both just busted up,” he said. “It was bad.”

Then they flew to Denver where Schroepfer met them at the airport.

“Tears started flowing right when we saw each other,” Schroepfer said.

Though Schroepfer and Perron have had some time to digest what happened, they still find it hard to make sense.

“It’s weird for him to be running around with a stick in his mouth, then he’s gone,” Perron said. “I don’t know how you’re hunting for elk and then shoot a lab. There’s a difference between a 2,000 pound animal and a 115 pound animal. It’s just absolutely sickening.”

The two friends describe the experience as traumatic, but in retrospect, they know it could’ve been different.

“When I talked to my mom, the first thing she said was, ‘Maybe the dog saved your life,'” Schroepfler said. “This is hands-down the most traumatic thing I’ve ever been through. A gunshot wound I’ve seen hunting, but this is a totally different thing.”

Perron said he will pursue charges against the hunter, and maybe more, to try and raise awareness on the trail by posting signs. Cordingly said no summons has been written yet, and police are still trying to locate the hunter, who will be charged with criminal mischief and prohibited use of a weapon.

“It would be cool to remember Crowley and have him do well to the area in this situation,” Schoepfler said. He was an incredible dog.”

He was more than incredible to Perron, who said he’ll cremate Crowley and spread his ashes in Edwards Dog Park.

“He was the best dog ever,” he said. “He was a once in a lifetime dog. He’s an eternal friend.”

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