READINGTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A tragic mistake in New Jersey claimed the life of a family’s pet. A hunter claims he mistook it for a coyote.
The family was stunned that hunting is even legal in their community.
J.T. Mongno lost his best friend Tonka on Wednesday.
“Sad,” is how he described himself to CBS2’s Meg Baker.
The one-year-old Alaskan shepherd was shot with a bow and arrow in a patch of woods next to the Mongno’s home in Readington.
“Dog saw some deer over there and took off after them,” his mother Elizabeth said.
Elizabeth Mongno said she was actively calling Tonka’s name and ran after him, unaware a man was armed just ahead.
“I heard a pop, heard him yip, knew something was wrong,” she said.
Tonka was found less than 100 feet from the Mongno’s property.
“I heard Elizabeth with her scream, it was an anguished scream. I didn’t know what was going on,” neighbor Andrea Wallace said.
Neighbors had no idea that the area between properties was open, legal hunting grounds. Their kids often play there.
“That shot could have gone wild, that shot could have hit Elizabeth who was running after her dog,” Dana Mauer said.
“We should have the right to know people have been given permission to hunt next to us,” neighbor Thomas Wallace said.
Police said the hunter — Romero Antonucci from Kenilworth — left the scene and later called police claiming he thought the dog was a coyote.
Antonucci faces a 7 year suspension of his hunting license and a $3,000 fine for careless discharge.
One expert told CBS2’s Baker he probably had a clear view that it was a dog since he was able to shoot the dog precisely in the heart.
Elizabeth’s husband is a hunter.
“It’s not a hunting issue, it’s the fact that this person should not be a hunter,” she said.
J.T. said he thinks he deserves an apology, after the death of an animal that the family called their third child.
A court date has been set for November 2.