During a hunting trip in Geuda Springs, Kan., a dog stepped on a loaded rifle, fatally shooting a passenger in his owner’s car, according to sheriff’s deputies.
According to the Sumner County Sheriff’s Office, 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 back seat contained hunting gear and a rifle,” according to the statement. “A canine belonging to the owner of the pickup stepped on the rifle causing the weapon to discharge. The bullet struck a passenger, who died as a result of his injuries on the scene.”
The sheriff’s office also stated that the shooting was an accident and that the case has been closed.
The sheriff’s office said responders were dispatched to the scene shortly before 9:50 a.m. Saturday after receiving a 911 call. The authorities did not say who made the 911 call, nor did they reveal the owner of the dog or vehicle. What happened to the dog was not immediately clear.
The shooting on Saturday was not the first involving a dog and a loaded weapon.
In recent years, many people in the United States have been injured or killed by canines discharging firearms, escalating calls for stricter gun control and safety measures.
Although federal data show that the vast majority of gun deaths in the United States are suicides or homicides, the Pew Research Center reports that more than 500 people were killed unintentionally with guns in 2020. The Washington Post reported in July that firearm purchases in the United States reached all-time highs during the pandemic years of 2020 and 2021, with more than 43 million guns estimated to have been purchased during that time period.
According to NBC News, in 2004, a shepherd-mix puppy in Florida discharged a gun, striking a man in the wrist. Jerry Allen Bradford was preparing to shoot seven puppies at the time of the shooting because he couldn’t find them a home, according to NBC News, citing the local sheriff’s office.
According to the Guardian, a Labrador retriever named Trigger accidentally shot a woman in the foot in Indiana in 2015. The woman’s loaded shotgun was left on the ground with the safety unlocked, resulting in her being shot at close range and requiring medical treatment for her foot and toes.
“When you have a country with as many people, guns, and dogs as we do, this type of thing is going to happen from time to time,” an analysis published in The Washington Post that year stated.
When the pair were playing inside a house in Iowa in 2018, a pit bull-Labrador mix named Balew accidentally shot his owner. Richard Remme, the dog’s owner, told authorities that he was sitting on the sofa when he pushed the dog off his lap. Balew jumped up, disabling the safety on his holstered gun and pulling the trigger.
According to Remme, who was shot in the leg, Balew cried after the shooting because he thought he had done something wrong, according to the Guardian.
In 2018, a 120-pound Rottweiler mix named Charlie caught a paw in the trigger of a gun while sitting in the back of his owner’s vehicle, resulting in bloodshed. Tex Harold Gilligan told ABC News that he was driving when he was shot and initially believed he had been shot by a sniper in the desert.
Gilligan was taken to the hospital with lung damage and broken bones, but he later defended his pet. “He had no intention of doing it. “He’s a good dog,” he explained.
The majority of reports of dogs injuring humans with firearms have come from the United States, but such incidents have also occurred in other countries.
A 32-year-old Turkish man from Samsun was killed by a dog during a hunting trip in November. Ozgur Gevrekogulu was loading equipment into his vehicle when his dog stepped on the trigger of a shotgun, resulting in a blast into the man’s abdomen, according to local media.