Colin Mackay, the author of the book “A History of Phuket and the Surrounding Region”, was walking with two friends and his dog Harley on an orchard trail near the Bang Neow Dum reservoir when the incident occurred. It was the first time Harley had been for a walk since giving birth to a litter of nine puppies only three weeks earlier.
Whereas Mr Mackay confirmed the trail does pass through private land, it is one that he and many other trekkers regularly take without any previous incident and that the landowner has never had any prior concerns with.
With Harley happily walking about 15 metres ahead, the three men neared a pair of local wooden worker’s houses when they suddenly heard a gunshot and yelps of agony from Harley, who was clearly seriously distressed, spinning in crazed circles.
Stunned, Mr Mackay ran to his stricken dog’s aide. Harley struggled for life for a few agonising moments before she collapsed and died as her owner tried desperately to comfort her.
Mr Mackay said it appeared the gun had been fired at Harley’s face and the bullet had lodged itself inside her body, causing irreparable damage.
Mr Mackay’s colleagues identified that the gunshot had come from one of the wooden houses on their left and the three men subsequently approached it to attempt to understand what had just happened.
A Thai man left the house and walked towards them as Mr Mackay asked why had he just shot the dog for no apparent reason, adding that Harley was walking harmlessly along the trail as she and they had done many, many times previously, as had many other dog walkers.
The man denied he had been the one who shot the dog, jumped on his motorcycle and drove off, although Mr Mackay did manage to note down the bike’s registration plate number.
Mr Mackay laid Harley’s corpse at the side of the track before he walked back four kilometres to retrieve his pickup truck with plans to return and collect her body.
When he returned, however, Harley’s body had disappeared and clear efforts had been made to wash away much of the blood from the trail.
Mr Mackay enquired with other locals in the area as to where his dog had gone but nobody claimed to know anything.
Once he returned home, Mr Mackay’s wife contacted the landowner who was very apologetic and confirmed he had heard about the shooting. Mr Mackay’s wife explained the family merely wanted the workers to return Harley’s body so a proper and respectful farewell could be conducted and their beloved pet could be buried with dignity on their own land. If this request was accepted then the police would not be contacted, Mr Mackay’s wife confirmed.
Later that evening the landowner called back to say the person who they believe was responsible for shooting Harley had moved the body and then disappeared. The landowner claimed the man had been working at the property only for a couple of days and he did not now know how to contact him.
Mr Mackay filed a formal report of the incident with the Thalang Police the next day. At time of press he still has not recovered Harley’s body.
“Harley was a very special dog, very intelligent, gentle and kind,” Mr Mackay told The Phuket News.
“She slept with my teenage daughter most nights, who absolutely adored her. Harley had become a beloved member of our family,” he added.
“What makes the shooting even more senseless, heartbreaking and difficult to come to terms with is that Harley had just given birth to her first litter of nine puppies only three weeks previously and was still in the process of weaning them. The walk on Saturday was our first since she had given birth.
“Harley was a very happy girl that day. It is just so heartbreaking that it ended in the way it did,” Mr Mackay lamented.
Mr Mackay also contacted Soi Dog Foundation, renowned for its work in treating and protecting local street dogs and cats and promoting a positive anti-cruelty sentiment to all animals.
“The number of cruel cases and unwarranted killing of dogs in the region has increased drastically in the past 12 months, despite the fact there are now far less stray dogs around than before,” commented John Dalley MBE, co-founder of Soi Dog Foundation.
“Our Community Relations team who investigate and pursue cruelty cases generally have at least one case per day reported. Sadly very few people are willing to report cases to the police because of fear of retaliation.
“It is illegal for anybody other than an authorised vet to kill a dog or a cat except in a life threatening situation. Anybody found guilty of killing or cruelty to animals can be imprisoned for up to two years and fined up to B40,000.
“Research has shown that people who are deliberately violent towards animals are frequently violent to humans as well.
“Whether Mr Mackay’s dog was shot for the perpetrator’s amusement, or whether he planned to eat it is unknown at this stage,” concluded Mr Dalley.