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Henry County family seeks help in finding dog’s killer
Risa, a 4-year-old border collie mix belonging to the Ingalls family in Henry County, was shot and killed recently by an unknown person. (Contributed photo)
Friday, November 8, 2013
By DEBBIE HALL - Bulletin Staff Writer
The Ingalls family in Henry County hopes authorities can find and charge the person who shot the family dog, Risa.
Risa was a 4-year-old border collie mix and “the best dog in the world,” said Dani Ingalls, 12. She called Risa her best friend.
Dani and her brother, Conor; sisters, Hannah and Kyra; and parents, Rett and Carrie Ingalls, owned Risa on the family’s farm in Ridgeway.
On Nov. 2, Conor found Risa under the family’s porch as he was doing his chores, Dani said.
Risa “was sort of halfway under the porch, and she wouldn’t get up,” Dani Ingalls said. “I was feeding the horses, and my brother ran down and told me that Risa was shot. It suddenly felt like the world tilted. A stone settled at the bottom of my stomach.”
By the time Dani she locked the barn door and ran to the house, her mother had dragged Risa out from under the porch.
The large caliber slug shot from a handgun had entered Risa’s body on her rear left shoulder, according to Dani and Rett Ingalls. The exit wound “was as big as her chest,” Dani said.
Rett Ingalls estimated the bullet would have been a .45 caliber, possibly a 10 mm “or some large caliber,” he said.
Because of the way the bullet had entered the dog’s body, the family believes Risa was shot while running away, Dani said.
When Dani got to the dog, she said Risa “didn’t look too good. She was responsive, but she didn’t want to lift her head.” Her parents found and called an emergency veterinarian. “The closest one was 45 minutes away” in Greensboro, N.C., Dani said.
“We put her on a sheet and got her in the back of the car,” Dani said. “I sat in the back and patted her the entire way and tried to keep her awake” because Dani said the family thought Risa was in shock.
After an examination, “the vet came in and told us that the best option would be to put her down” because Risa was not expected to survive surgery, Dani said. Even if she did, “the vet told us she would most likely get an infection and die.”
The decision was made to end Risa’s suffering, and the family went back in to see her, Dani said.
“They let us pet her. She was on pain medication so she didn’t feel anything, but she was so happy and so glad to see us,” Dani said. “She lifted up her head, and her ears perked up. She was even kind of wagging her tail. ... We tried not to cry.”
But she did. “I don’t think I ever cried so hard in my life,” Dani said.
Now, “I want my dog’s death to mean something,” Dani said.
The family notified the authorities and created the “Justice for Risa Reward Fund” to raise money for a reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for her death, Dani said.
So far, they have collected a little less than $150.
“We want to find who did this and see if we can do anything else to keep this from happening again,” Rett Ingalls said. That could mean lobbying for tougher laws, he added.
Currently, shooting a pet is a felony, according to www.leg1.state.va.us and Henry County Sheriff Lane Perry.
While their efforts won’t bring Risa back, they may prevent someone else from going through a similar heartache, Dani said. Without Risa, “there’s something missing,” she said.
For more information about Risa, visit oakgrovetrails.com.
Anyone with information about the shooting incident is asked to call the Henry County Sheriff’s Office at 638-8751.