Police are trying to track down the person who fatally shot the 15-year-old's service dog
Texas police are investigating the fatal shooting of a service dog who belonged to a teenage girl with diabetes, PEOPLE confirms.
Journey, a service dog for 15-year-old Hannah Westmoreland, was shot outside his owner’s Quinlan home in the afternoon of Jan. 13. The 4-year-old Golden Retriever was rushed to the vet for emergency surgery but died from his injuries.
“It is a horrific matter,” Hunt County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Jeff Haines tells PEOPLE. “One, it is an animal, and the fact it is a 15-year-old child’s service animal — it is hard to fathom.”
Journey became part of Hannah’s family four years ago after residents of Quinlan raised about $10,000 for the family to buy him, according to the Dallas Morning News.
The dog was able to identify when Hannah’s blood sugar was low and alert her.
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“He would smell when her levels were low or high and would nudge her,” Hannah’s cousin Missy Mossman tells PEOPLE. “His snout would go into her leg and really push her.”
According to Mossman, Journey and another family dog were let out in the backyard that Sunday morning. After making her children breakfast, Hannah’s mother Tina saw that Journey was lying in the front yard.
“At the time they didn’t know there was a gunshot,” says Mossman. “They called Hannah’s grandpa and he came over and when they went to lift Journey up, they noticed the gunshot wound in his hip.”
Mossman says the gunshot went through the dog’s spleen and liver. “It was internal bleeding they couldn’t stop,” she says.
Mossman says the family never heard the shot. “They heard a couple of four-wheelers and that is about all they heard,” she says.
“The bad thing is, if they said ‘sit’ he would have sat, and if they said ‘come’ he would have come,” she says. “He was trained not to bark. Any command he would follow. He always had a tennis ball in his mouth unless he had his service vest on. When he had his vest on he meant business. He wouldn’t hurt a fly.”
Hannah’s mother Tina told the Morning News that the family doesn’t currently have plans to get another service dog.
“It scares me to death to try to replace Journey,” the mom told the outlet. “For now, I’ll be more proactive in checking her sugars.”
A GoFundMe page has raised more than $40,000 towards a reward to find out who shot Journey and pay for vet bills. The remainder, according to the page, will go toward buying another service dog “when the time is right,” the page states.
Hunt County Crime Stoppers is also offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest.
Tipsters are asked to call Hunt County Crime Stoppers at 903-457-2929. All tips are anonymous.