Family: Gunner the service dog shot dead, dumped near railroad tracks

Family: Gunner the service dog shot dead, dumped near railroad tracks (WKRC)

WALTON, Ky. (WKRC) - A disabled veteran who lost his support dog three weeks ago says the Siberian Husky was stolen, shot and dumped along the railroad tracks.

“Gunner” was found dead on Monday afternoon, just one day after his family started getting strange messages demanding money for information about the dog's whereabouts.

What started as a missing dog story evolved into a scenario that potentially includes theft, animal cruelty and extortion.

The family in the middle of it is grateful for the outpouring of support and anxious for justice.

Kimberly Vallandingham and Anjannette Smith took Local 12 to the tracks in Boone County where Gunner the Husky was found on Monday afternoon. They say he had a bullet hole in the back of his head.

On Thursday, Bryan Vallandingham wanted whoever is responsible to know that he won't rest until they're caught.

“You took my dog. You stole him. You shot him. You may have hurt me and my family greatly but you will not break me,” said Bryan.

Vallandingham suffers seizures from a traumatic brain injury he suffered in the Army. Gunner could sense a seizure long before Vallandingham could.

Gunner was last seen on his leash outside his home on Jan. 12th.

Flyers were printed and reward money raised to help find Gunner.

Much of the goodwill was soured Sunday when Kimberly Vallandingham got a text demanding a $100 deposit on a gift card for information on Gunner's whereabouts. She called the sheriff who started investigating.

“I don't believe this to be legitimate. I just believe they're trying to extort you out of $100 and if you fall for that it'll be another $100 or $200 and they'll piece you along but I don't think you're going to get any closer to getting your dog back,” said Boone County Sheriff’s Tom Scheben.

The family is split on whether they think the folks asking for money are connected with those who took and killed the dog. They are ready to move forward.

“If we could just find some answers to just why this happened… I'd greatly appreciate it,” said Kimberly.

“Whoever did do this… They will get theirs. The police will find them. They are not invisible like they think they are,” said Anjanette Smith, Bryan’s sister-in-law.

The Vallandinghams want to thank the sheriff's office and everyone for the outpouring of support and donations.

They're getting the pick of a litter of husky puppies to replace Gunner. That puppy was born Thursday.

There is a $2,500 reward through CrimeStoppers for information about who took Gunner and who killed him. You can collect the cash by calling 513-352-3040.

The 24-hour hotline identifies callers by code numbers, not names, so you can remain anonymous.

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