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A therapy dog that worked with people with autism and PTSD was shot to death by a hunter who mistakenly believed the pet was a wolf.

Valeria Calderoni, founder of Canine Valley rehabilitation centre in Squamish, B.C. says Kaoru was shot at point blank range while she was out with a trainer and nine dogs on their regular Monday morning hike north of the city.

They were putting leashes back onto the dogs when she heard a bang so loud that she instinctually crouched down.

That's when she saw her four-year-old pup had been hit by a bullet, just three metres away from her. The distraught owner tried to save her dog but the injuries were too grave.

"There was a huge amount of blood. I just told her to 'let go' and she died," she said.

"This man took my dog's life because he thought she was a wolf. We could have died."


Kaoru was a Tamaskan dog, a rare Finnish breed. The working dog was specifically bred to look like a wolf by mixing the Siberian husky, Alaskan malamute and German shepherd breeds, according to the website Dog Breed Plus. The BC Conservation Service has launched a full investigation into what it calls a "very unfortunate situation."

Sgt. Simon Gravel said the shooter is claiming misidentification of the species. He was hunting for deer on Crown land but "believed the animal was a wolf." While deer hunting is allowed in the area, wolf hunting is not, Gravel added. Calderoni says she frequently hikes in the region with children, and believes that the hunter could have easily hit one of them instead.


"Could you imagine if a child had to experience that? Or worse, if he had hit a child?" she said.

Kaoru worked as an emotional therapy dog whose biggest talent was working to calm children with autism.

"These beautiful kids have episodes and would sometimes be rough with her, but Kaoru was amazing and followed her training perfectly. She would squint her eyes, lay down, and let out a sigh, the kids then would slowly begin to calm down as their hands crunched tightly on Kaoru's fur," she said.


In a region commonly used by hunters, dog walkers, mountain bikers and hikers alike, conservation officials say the dog's death serves as an important reminder for anyone using the backcountry.

"Always be very visible when you walk in the forest, knowing it's hunting season," Gravel told CTV Vancouver.

"It's also important for hunters to be 100 per cent sure of their target before they shoot an animal."


Now grieving her pet, Calderoni has started an online campaign to have hunting banned in the area.

"This is a huge tragedy," she said. "Something good should come of Kaoru's death."

The hunter is cooperating with its investigation.
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Responses to "Therapy dog mistaken for "wolf" shot to death by cruel hunter"

  1. Before these so call hunters go out hunting they should take a test to see what kind of animal that is in a picture before he is given a hunting license.if they fail the test take all their hunting equipment away from them for a year

  2. Anonymous says:

    If you are hunting wolves in the first place...you are a piece of shit as it is. Even more of a useless piece of shit shooting a little girl's dog. These are the kind if people that shouldn't be allowed to own a gun.

  3. trash in human clothing, leave him out for the wolves he fears so much

  4. Whilst this is immensely unfortunate shooting ANY animal for 'fun' is abhorrent. On the whole the human race endorses animal cruelty and death subject to only two provisos: (a) The hunted animal must not be human, and (b) It must not be endangered or a cuddly pet. Humans are the craziest and cruelest and most illogical animals on the planet! We vegans like to consider ourselves as being the exception.

  5. Horrible and nasty people hunting wolves anyway. So stupid was this idiot with a gun that he couldn't tell the difference between a dog and a wolf. He murdered this beautiful dog. Rest in Peace beloved Kaoru.

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