DODGE CENTER, Minn. (FOX 47) -- A family near Dodge Center is grieving after finding out their two family pets were shot and killed on another property. They are saying it is the definition of animal cruelty.
Letting the dog outside is a normal activity for anyone with a pet, but for one family in Dodge Center, that action quickly turned tragic.
"My five-year-old daughter let my dogs out, and they ran away," said Jerrod Vandal. "And about 3:30ish when my other kids got home, they heard gunshots."
The family did not think anything of it at the time, but then their dogs were nowhere to be found. It was not until two days later when they heard the worst. Their two dogs, a mastiff named Lexus and a pit bull named Mercedes, shot multiple times and killed.
"Beautiful, nice, loving and caring dogs," Vandal said. "They were a pit bull and a mastiff, more than just a breed, they were family members."
The family has not heard who shot at the pets or where the incident happened, but it quickly raises the question about what property owners are legally allowed to do.
"I don't think farmers should have the right to inhumanely kill an animal like that," Vandal said. "It's just wrong. My dogs were deathly afraid of guns, water bottles, you crinkle a water bottle and they'd be hiding. Toy guns, squirt guns, they didn't like it."
This incident is spreading quickly, with an online petition expressing outrage reaching close to 600 signatures. But Jerrod and his family know that nothing will bring back two pets that they considered family.
"Yeah, my five-year-old daughter thinks it's her fault because she let the dogs out," Vandal said. "Cries every night. They slept together every night."
The pain of loss may still be fresh, but they know the good memories of Lexus and Mercedes will triumph in the end.
Jerrod and his family are getting their dogs back Tuesday so they can be buried at their home. The Vandals are looking at their options in small claims court to get some justice for their family.
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