A Cariboo rancher is warning others after her guard dog Copper was shot and killed on Sept. 17, 2020 along Maze Lake Road southeast of Williams Lake.
“I’m going to miss her,” Gail Bezanson told the Tribune.
“She was a wonderful dog. She guarded me, she guarded the cows and calves, the chickens and the other dogs. I never had to tie her up unless I didn’t want her to follow me.”
Bezanson received Copper, who was an Akbash-Maremma, through a local veterinary hospital in 2009.
The day before Copper was shot, Bezanson had been haying up in her field three-and-half miles from home.
“I had broken down and walked home and got the parts I needed and fixed the baler. I had left my quad up there and a friend volunteered to drive me back up to get it.”
She told Copper and her border collie Shy to stay behind and as they normally were so good about staying she didn’t bother tying them up.
When she returned home Copper was not there. First thing in the morning, she woke up and was worried because there has been a problem with wolves killing livestock in the area.
“We’ve all lost huge amounts of livestock. I was worried she’d been killed by the wolves.”
Setting out on her quad, she went looking for her, taking her little dog Minnie along for the ride because sometimes dogs can see and smell things that humans don’t, she said.
While she headed out to try and find Copper she followed tracks from a pickup truck with eight inch wide tire tracks.
At the 11.5 kilometre mark of the Maze Lake Road, something made her stop.
Minnie was sniffing around a spruce tree and Bezanson went back to see what she was sniffing at. Someone had dragged Copper off the road and put her down in the trees and that’s where she found her.
At first she didn’t want to believe it was Copper.
“When you see an animal dead that you love, it’s just so hard,” she said, faltering. “I was really upset that she had been shot. I straightened her out.”
“The bullet didn’t hit anything vital to kill her quickly so she had a horrible death.”
Wrapping her in a tarp, she took her home and buried her.
Bezanson said she will miss Copper and is feeling vulnerable and cannot believe that it was a human predator that got her.
“She was amazing. I never worried about bears when I went fencing. One time an eight-foot bear came in November when I was frying up some lamb chops. I went outside because I heard Copper barking and she was standing up tall with all her hackles up and not letting the bear move.”
After the shooting, Shy, who was suffering from cancer, returned home very muddy.
She stopped eating and digressed very quickly to the point that Bezanson had her put down last week.
“I basically lost two dogs because of this,” she said.
The shooting incident as been reported to the B.C. Conservation Officer Service.