A dog stepped on a loaded shotgun, fatally shooting a passenger in his owner’s car during a hunting trip in Geuda Springs, Kan., sheriff’s deputies said.
Joseph Austin Smith, 30, of Wichita was sitting in the front passenger seat of a pickup truck when he was shot in the back, the Sumner County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
“The back seat held hunting gear and a rifle,” the statement said. “A dog belonging to the owner of the pickup truck stepped on the shotgun causing the gun to discharge. The shot fired hit the passenger who died at the scene of his injuries.
The sheriff’s office added that it considers the shooting an accident and closed the case.
Rescuers were sent to the scene shortly before 9:50 a.m. Saturday after receiving a 911 call, the sheriff’s office said. Authorities did not say who made the 911 call or reveal the name of the person who owns the dog or vehicle. It wasn’t immediately clear what happened to the dog.
A GoFundMe page set up by a group of people identified as Smith’s colleagues at Browns Plumbing Services in Wichita remembered him as “kind, funny, smart, and very warm.” The campaign has raised more than $10,000 as of Wednesday morning. GoFundMe has confirmed the validity of the fundraising page. Browns Plumbing Services did not immediately respond to a Washington Post request for comment Wednesday morning.
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Saturday’s shooting isn’t the first involving a dog and a loaded gun.
Many people across the United States have been injured or killed by canines discharging firearms in recent years, escalating calls for better gun control and safety measures.
Although federal data indicates that the vast majority of firearm deaths in the United States are suicides or homicides, the latest data shows that more than 500 people were unintentionally killed by firearms in 2020, according to the Pew Research Center. Firearm purchases soared to record highs in the United States in the pandemic years of 2020 and 2021, with more than 43 million guns estimated to have been purchased in that period, the Washington Post reported in July.
In 2004, a Florida mixed shepherd puppy discharged a gun, hitting a man in the wrist, NBC News reported. At the time of the shooting, Jerry Allen Bradford was preparing to shoot seven puppies because he failed to find homes for them, NBC News reported, citing the local sheriff’s office.
In 2015, a Labrador retriever named Trigger accidentally shot a woman in the foot in Indiana, the Guardian reported. The woman’s loaded rifle had been left on the ground with her safety off, causing shots at close range and requiring medical attention to her foot and toes.
“When you have a country with as many people and guns and dogs as we do, this sort of thing is going to happen from time to time,” said an analysis in The Post that year.
In 2018, a pit bull-Labrador named Balew accidentally shot his owner while the two were playing inside a house in Iowa. The dog’s owner, Richard Remme, told officials he was sitting on the sofa when he pushed the dog off his lap. Balew leapt to his feet, disengaging the safety catch on his holstered pistol and pulling the trigger.
Remme, who was wounded in the leg, said Balew – whom his owner described as ‘a big idiot’ – cried after the shooting because he thought he had done something wrong, the Guardian reported.
A hunting trip ended in bloodshed in New Mexico in 2018 when a 120-pound Rottweiler mix named Charlie caught his paw in the trigger of a gun while sitting in the back of his owner’s vehicle. Tex Harold Gilligan told ABC News that he was driving at the time he was shot and initially thought he was shot by a sniper in the desert.
Gilligan was hospitalized with lung damage and broken bones, but later stood up for his furry friend. “He wasn’t going to do that. He’s a good dog,” he said.
Most of the reports of dogs injuring humans with firearms have been documented in the United States, but such incidents have occurred in other countries as well.
In November, a 32-year-old Turkish man from the city of Samsun was killed by a dog while hunting. Ozgur Gevrekogulu was loading equipment into his vehicle when his dog pulled the trigger of a rifle, firing a shot into the man’s abdomen, the Middle East Eye reported, citing local media.