Coon Dog Shot in White County, Georgia
Case of shot Walker Hound still being investigated in north Georgia community.
On Christmas Eve, 53-year-old Stanley Barnes of Clermont, and Cleveland residents Donald Maney and Brent Thomas, both 30, loaded Stanley’s Walker hound Kate and Donald’s Walker Lady and went on a coon hunt. But what began as a fun evening in the woods quickly turned into an ugly incident which left one dog dead.
The men began hunting in a field bordered by a creek at the foot of Wauka Mountain, an area they have been hunting for many years. According to a report from White County Sheriff’s Deputy Jarrett Fry, the men turned the dogs out at about 9 p.m. and the dogs struck, running a coon into the woods, and evenutally, onto the property of Theodore and June Mustachio. Stanley reported hearing gunshots from the direction where the dogs were treed. Meanwhile, authorities responded to the Mustachios’ complaints about dogs on their property.
Stanley’s son-in-law Chad Reed asked permission from the landowners to retrieve the hounds. When Stanley went to get his dogs off the tree, he found only one of them.
Michael Mustachio, son of the property owner and a Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Deputy, told Stanley he had only seen one dog.
After returning to the road in front of the Mustachio property, Stanley began using his tracking system to see if he could figure out which direction his missing dog might have gone. The tracking system, which utilizes collars set to a particular frequency, beeps when the dog wearing the corresponding collar is near. The closer a hunter gets to his dog, the faster the beeping becomes.
“The tracking system said the dog was right up by the house,” Stanley said. “We called the sheriff back out there.”
When Deputy Fry returned, he asked Michael what happened to Stanley’s dog. Michael stated that he was trying to scare the dogs away and shot several times through the woods. He claimed he accidentally hit the dog, the body of which was in a black garbage bag in the back of his pickup truck.
The dog’s regular collar and its tracking collar had been cut off. The antenna was also cut off the tracking collar, but it was still giving off enough of a signal to work.
Stanley sent Kate’s body to the University of Georgia’s vet school to have an autopsy done. He wanted to know if she was shot from close range.
Stanley says the vet reported that there was no gun-powder residue, which would be present with a point-blank shot, and that the wound indicated a shot through the chest that exited the dog’s back. GON was unable to reach the veterinarian who performed the autopsy.
While Stanley says the area he hunts is growing, he has never had trouble of any sort in three decades of coon hunting.
“I knew everybody in the area except these people. That was one of the only places I had left where I thought I could hunt and be safe,” Stanley said.
According to DNR Law Enforcement Capt. Mike England, the shooter could be charged with misdemeanor or felony animal cruelty, depending on the case. The White County District Attorney’s Office says a warrant was requested, but the incident is still under investigation.
“We’re still waiting on some statements to be received before we decide what charges, if any, need to be pursued,” said Kerry Banister with the DA’s office.
Calls to Michael Mustachio were not returned by press time.
In December of 1999, GON reported on a Banks County case in which a jury awarded $2,500 to a man whose champion coonhound was killed in a similar case.
“It’s not about the money,” Stanley said. “I just want to make sure it doesn’t get swept under the rug.”
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