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.

Comments (4)
  1. Aside from the fact that the hunter is obviously lying, this whole incident shows that hunting is a brutal, indefensible “sport.” Somehow society says it’s wrong to shoot a dog but acceptable to shoot a coyote. These species are so close that they can interbreed. We condemn the pain and suffering that a dog would suffer but have no concern that a coyote would feel exactly the same pain and suffering. The only difference is our human perception, our assumption that dogs matter and coyotes do not. We protect one but not the other. Shame on our species for the psychological disconnect that allows us to love some animals and kill others. (And yes, I’m a vegetarian.)

    1. Illumine says:

      Everything you said is exactly right. The disconnect is amazing. Thanks for saying so eloquently what needs to be stated much more often.

  2. Terry Mi says:

    The hunter is an idiot. He should have his hunting license revoked.

    1. Illumine says:

      The fact is, he should have his hunting license revoked for life, but I’m surprised they are considering a 7-year suspension considering that hunters usually get away with the crimes they commit. And the reason they get away with it is because these agencies will do anything to keep the hunters they have since they pay their bills. Their funding depends on the revenue generated by the sale of hunting licenses. It is what hunting has been reduced to today. R3…recruit, retain, reactivate…at all costs.

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