LOUISA COUNTY, Va. (NEWSPLEX) -- An investigation into the shooting of a dog in Louisa County is underway. It's an incident that pits animal rights against property rights, and the dog's owner says he wants to see the shooter held accountable.
"I think he should be in jail," said Jay Perez, whose dog, Chief, was shot and nearly killed on Monday after escaping with another dog from Perez's mother's property on Hanback Road near Gordonsville.
"They were running around behind the carport, and I called their names," said Perez. "Then they looked at me and took off running."
Perez set off after the dogs through wooded property, catching sight of them several times.
"I wasn't 50 yards behind them," he said. "And I was screaming their names the whole time from here to that guy's house."
He said he saw Chief one last time at the edge of the neighbor's property, near the road.
"That's when I heard him shoot my dog," said Perez.
He heard Chief's cries and encountered the neighbor, who CBS19 is not naming since he has not been charged with a crime. A reporter's efforts to reach the neighbor were unsuccessful.
"I saw him standing on the porch with his gun," said Perez. "All [he said] was he was sorry, he had chickens that had been going missing."
Perez said he never saw or heard any chickens, and he said Chief is frequently around chickens at his mother's house and has never chased them.
"He doesn't bother anyone," he said. "He loves everybody."
Major Donald Lowe of the Louisa county Sheriff's Office said the neighbor made the same claim to officers who responded to Perez's call. He said Virginia state law allows anyone who owns poultry or agricultural animals to shoot a dog if it has killed or is chasing them.
"We have to determine all the facts and what we can and can't prove," said Lowe.
Perez is relieved Chief survived, but he's concerned about the investigation. After his initial call to report the shooting, he said he hasn't been interviewed about the incident again.
He said he was close to the dog when the shot was fired, and the chickens on the property were nowhere near where his dog was shot. He said the vet told him they found no evidence of feathers on the dog.
After being shot, Chief ran back to Perez's mother's home, where Perez's grandfather wrapped the dog tightly to stop heavy bleeding from the wound caused by the bullet that came close to striking his spine.
The family took the dog to the emergency vet in Charlottesville, where he underwent surgery that saved his life but cost the family more than $2,000.
And while Chief is recuperating physically, Perez is still coping with the emotional trauma of seeing his beloved pet grievously injured and suffering.
"I almost lost my best friend," he said.
See the Related Links box for information on the fundraiser for Chief's vet bills.