Ice-fishing trip turns tragic when B.C. conservation officer shoots man’s pet dog to death

Steve Mertl
National Affairs Contributor
Daily Brew
A powerful nor'easter forced the cancellation of many weekend events in New Hampshire, but the Great Meredith Rotary Ice Fishing Derby is going on as scheduled.

There are two versions of what happened on the ice of Black Water Lake last Sunday. The only undisputed fact is that Rada is dead.

Rada was a five-year-old Belgian Shepherd whom Russian immigrant Alexey Osmolin had owned since she was a 2 1/2-week-old pup.

Osmolin and a friend were ice fishing on the lake near Pemberton, B.C., north of Vancouver. They were preparing to wrap things up when Rada left his side and, barking, bounded towards a member of the B.C. Conservation Officer Service who appeared.

As he turned to see what his dog was barking at, Osmolin saw the officer draw his handgun and start firing. Four shots in rapid succession, according to Postmedia News.

"I turned around and heard the shots," said Osmolin, who has lived in Canada since 1997. "I just started running [toward Rada]."

He arrived to see Rada lying motionless in the snow. Osmolin screamed for an explanation.

"Well, she was going to attack me," the officer allegedly told him before, ignoring the dying dog, he moved to seize the fishing gear for a purported violation. Osmolin said the officer showed no evident remorse or made any effort to help Rada.

"I couldn’t even think straight," Osmolin said. "I tried to do it (CPR) on the nose, but there was blood bubbles coming out."

He and his friend bundled Rada in the back of Osmolin's pickup truck and his friend drove to a local veterinarian while Osmolin cradled Rada and vainly tried to keep her alive. But she was dead on arrival at the vet's clinic.

"There is no more blood in her, she has lost all the blood she had,” the vet told Osmolin, according to Postmedia News.

[ Related: Pet deer shot dead by Manitoba conservation officers ]

The Conservation Officers Service confirmed it is investigating the incident. Insp. Chris Doyle said the officer involved had been on the job for several years and has a clean performance record, Postmedia News said.

Doyle said the review will look at whether the officer handled the incident in accordance with the service's policy and use-of-force guidelines. Officers are trained to deal with aggressive animals and, besides carrying a semiautomatic pistol, are also equipped with pepper spray and a police-style baton.

The officer reported the dog charged him aggressively, he said.

"When the dog did not disengage from charging at him, he drew his sidearm and shot the dog," Doyle said. "He [the officer] is doing OK. Obviously he has had better days and that is certainly not the kind of situation an officer wants to be in."

But Osmolin is not OK. He said he's been unable to eat, sleep or work since his dog was shot.

Osmolin, who lives in the Vancouver suburb of Burnaby, said his dog was well trained and had never bitten anyone.

"My dog posed no threat to him," Osmolin wrote in a letter he intends to send to the Conservation Officers Service. "I loved my dog with no boundaries or reservations. We were completely inseparable, and I am at a loss no words can express."

Rada's fatal run-in with the B.C. conservation officer comes a week after conservation officers in Manitoba shot a tame deer to death in front of members of a Hutterite colony, who had rescued it as an injured fawn.

That case is also being investigated .