The dog was running loose in the woods when it was shot by Seth White, 53, according to DIF&W spokeswoman Edie Smith.
“He was out hunting and he mistook the dog for a coyote,” Smith said Thursday in a telephone interview. She said White had been hunting Wednesday morning in an area of Orrington with the permission of the landowner. She said he was found by state game wardens who were told by other hunters that he had been hunting in the area and they had hear gunshots shortly after 7 a.m.
The dog, a 2-year-old German shepherd named Maggie, had been missing from its home on Mount High Drive since Monday, when one of its owners, Lynne Cota, let it and two other dogs out to relieve themselves, Orrington Animal Control Officer Carla Brown said Thursday.
The dogs caught the scent of a squirrel and took off running, she said.
“Only two came back,” Brown said.
Brown said that Cota had called her to ask her to keep an eye out for the dog and that she had checked out places in town where dogs are known to gather.
In the meantime, Cota posted information about the missing dog and the offer of a reward on Facebook and further spread the word through a Bangor radio station and on the Bangor Daily News website.
Maggie’s body was found in a wooded area late Wednesday afternoon by a farmer who was walking his own dog, Brown said. The farmer went home and told his wife, who had seen the Facebook appeal and contacted the owners. Brown called Orrington deputies with the Penoscot County Sheriff’s Department, who called in the Maine Warden Service, she said.
Brown said the incident has sadden many people in the community.
“I don’t know how anyone could mistake a well-groomed German shepherd for a coyote,” she said, adding that Maine law prohibits the killing of dogs except by DIF&W personnel or in cases where one’s life is in danger.
Though neither Lynne Cota or her husband, Andrew Cota, could be reached for comment Thursday afternoon, she posted comments on the Facebook page of radio station Q107.3.
“To all of our dear friends — it was during our deep pain and hours of sobbing that we finally layed down, snuggled with our two remaining shepherds and read each of your posts, texts and emails out loud to each other,” she wrote. “You all brought us great comfort. The outpouring of love since our Maggie disappeared has been astounding. Please believe it when we say that it is what has kept us going.”
The Maine Warden Service stresses during hunting season, hunters must practice 100 percent identification of any wild animal or wild bird before shooting a target.