Editor’s note: This story contains graphic images and descriptions that some may find disturbing.

Kori Bourne, manager of the Hay River Animal Shelter, is expressing outrage after two dogs – Prince and Beauty – were recently injured by rubber bullets.

“There’s someone going around shooting dogs with these (things) and basically the dog is left to suffer,” she said. “I went and did some research, and those rubber bullets are meant for bears.

“It’s got me concerned,” she added. “It’s got the NWT SPCA concerned and obviously it’s got the general public a little concerned too.”

Pictured is the rubber bullet that lodged two centimetres from Beauty’s jugular, said Kori Bourne, manager of the Hay River Animal Shelter. “She was close to not making it but they… managed to remove the bullet to save her.”

On July 22, Bourne received a call from Prince’s owner, who suspected their dog had been shot.

After examining Prince, Bourne saw the dog needed immediate medical attention.

“He really needed to go to the vet because he had a big wound, a big hole in his chest,” she described.

The owner, unable to afford veterinary care, agreed to surrender the dog to the NWT SPCA, which was willing to pay the costly medical bill.

“I told them if you really want your dog to live, we’re going to have to do this,” said Bourne.

“We will do it,” she recalled the owner saying. “We want our dog to live because we really care about him.”

Prince was then medevaced to Yellowknife’s Great Slave Animal Hospital (GSAH), where he underwent surgery to remove the bullet, thanks to Air Tindi, which agreed to fly the dog free of charge.

“I just had to get it to the airport,” said Bourne.

She said Prince was “happy and able to walk around,” before being flown out on July 23.

Bourne later responded to the shooting of a second dog, Beauty, who was found injured by a resident on the K’atl’odeeche First Nation reserve on July 24.

Bourne brought her back to the shelter and repeated the process of sending the dog to Yellowknife for treatment.

“She was stable. She was eating, she was drinking, but you could tell she going through a lot of pain,” she said. “I was a little nervous that she might succumb to her injuries during the evening, but she pulled through.”

After putting out another appeal for someone to give the dog a ride to the hospital, Air Tindi once again agreed to fly the animal free of charge.

Hay River RCMP are investigating the recent dog shootings, confirmed Insp. Dean Riou, officer in charge of the NWT RCMP’s south district. “We are still gathering information and no charges have been laid yet,” he stated.

Close call

After veterinarians performed emergency surgery, Bourne was told they removed another rubber bullet — “the exact same thing as Prince, and it was two centimetres away from her jugular vein,” said Bourne. “She was close to not making it but they did the surgery and managed to remove the bullet to save her.”

The pooches are now recuperating. In a July 24 update posted by the NWT SPCA, Prince is seen resting.

“Thank you to Dr. Katie Denroche and staff at GSAH for the medical care for this big sweet guy,” the statement reads. “He is recovering with his foster mom and doing well so far.”

The NWT SPCA also shared an update on Beauty, writing in a post July 26 that she was recovering.

“All of us pulled together to get these dogs up to the vet,” said Bourne. “Air Tindi agreed to fly them so they wouldn’t have to endure a five-hour drive. Someone found them a ride from the airport to the animal hospital up there, all of that was arranged.”

Bourne noted the NWT SPCA is calling for donations to help pay for the medical bills, “because the surgeries are definitely not cheap.”

“If you can donate, please do,” she said.

Hay River RCMP are investigating the incidents, confirmed Insp. Dean Riou, officer in charge of the NWT RCMP’s south district.

“The Hay River RCMP proactively opened a criminal investigation into the matter. We are still gathering information and no charges have been laid yet,” he stated.

When asked what kind of charges a person might face for committing these actions, Riou stated that it is a crime in Canada to injure or kill a dog but that “each situation is unique.”

“Investigators would have to review the circumstances of the incident, including the suspect’s motivations, intent, etc. to determine the appropriate charges,” he continued. “Generally speaking, Section 445(1) of the Criminal Code creates an offence if anyone kills, maims, wounds, poisons or injures dogs, birds or animals kept for a lawful purpose.

“Anecdotally, I am friends with the person who is fostering the first dog that was shot,” he continued. “I have been advised it is doing well in its recovery.”

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