A reward is now offered for information leading to the arrest of the person or persons responsible for the shooting death of a service dog in Quinlan.
The Hunt County Sheriff’s Office has also begun a criminal investigation into the Sunday incident.
Hunt County Crime Stoppers announced Tuesday it is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information on animal cruelty charges in connection with the shooting of Journey.
The shooting occurred at around 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 13, in the 9200 block of Brooke Lane in Quinlan.
Tina Westmoreland, a single mother of three children and teacher at Quinlan ISD, told the Herald-Banner Monday that Journey and the family’s other two dogs had escaped the back yard out of an open gate – a gate that the family always kept closed.
When Westmoreland went to call the dogs and first noticed them in the front yard, she saw Journey lying in the yard, and he did not respond when she called him.
“Journey was laying right outside here and when I called him he reached one leg up, but he didn’t pick his head up, and I think I just screamed ‘Oh God, something is wrong with Journey,’” she said. “We ran out, he was (lying) there, and we called for help. … He wasn’t moving his legs, he didn’t wimper.”
At the animal hospital a short time later, veterinarians informed the family that Journey had sustained internal injuries to multiple organs as a result of a gunshot wound and that he would require stabilization and immediate surgery. The doctor urged the family to say their goodbyes “just in case,” but tragically, Journey didn’t make it to surgery and passed away at the pet hospital Sunday.
Investigators with the Hunt County Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday they opened a criminal investigation and have partnered with Constable Terry Jones’ office. Jones typically handles animal cruelty investigations in Hunt County and has a deputy constable assigned to his office from the S.P.C.A. of Texas.
“It will be my office and the SPCA of Texas working together on this investigation to see what we can find,” Jones told the Herald-Banner Tuesday. “We are encouraging people to contact Crime Stoppers with any information.”
Anyone with information concerning the incident can contact Hunt County Crime Stoppers at 903-457-2929. The identity of people who send in tips to Crime Stoppers remains totally anonymous.
Hannah Westmoreland, 15, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 8, has had Journey since the age of 12 after the community helped raise about $10,000 so the family could adopt the service dog from an assistance-dog organization in Ohio.
Journey was trained as a diabetes service dog and would alert those around if his owner’s blood sugar reached abnormal, dangerous levels. He was specifically trained to detect Hannah’s blood-sugar levels and would travel to school with her.
Journey accompanied Hannah to summer camp and – as a beloved fixture at her school in Quinlan – he even had his own class photo taken and was included in school yearbooks in recent years.
A GoFundMe account and Facebook page have also been established to help raise funds to offer as a reward for information leading to the shooter, to cover the veterinary costs for Journey, and potentially to help Hannah get a new service dog. Find the GoFundMe page at http://bit.ly/2SVRHFB, and the Facebook page can be found at http://bit.ly/2SSUfV1.