The bond between man and dog cannot be broken — not even by bullets.
That’s what New Mexico man Sonny “Tex” Gilligan realized after being accidentally shot in the back by Charlie, his 120-pound Rottweiler mix. Gilligan, 74, was sitting in his pickup truck with Charlie and his two other dogs, Scooter and Cowboy, preparing to hunt jackrabbits, when a shot rang out in the desert west of Las Cruces Oct. 25.
“Charlie got his foot in the trigger of the gun and I leaned forward and he slipped off the seat and caught the trigger, and it shot,” Gilligan told the Las Cruces Sun-News. “It was a freak accident, but it’s true, that’s what happened.”
Gilligan was in the driver’s seat, while Charlie was in the backseat, where Gilligan had left the firearm.
When the dog stepped on the trigger, it sent a bullet through Gilligan’s back, breaking several ribs, shattering his collarbone and causing other severe injuries, according to the Sun-News. Gilligan, who at first believed the shot came from outside the truck, managed to call 911, which alerted emergency responders to the dire situation in the nick of time.
“If they waited 10 more minutes, I would’ve died,” he said. “I lost so much blood.”
Gilligan underwent several surgeries. He was listed in critical condition, but was improving, and was scheduled to be transferred to a rehabilitation center.
Charlie, Scooter and Cowboy were sent to the Animal Service Center of the Mesilla Valley following the shooting, but Gilligan stressed the dog did nothing wrong.
“Poor Charlie, he’s a good dog,” he said. “The sheriff's department said the only one they had trouble with was Cowboy. The other two were friendly. Charlie is the boss, but he's gentle."
The dogs had since been placed with Gilligan’s son, who told the Sun-News he wasn’t surprised to hear one of the dogs had accidentally shot his father.
“They’re kind of rowdy,” Mark Gilligan said. “They’re pretty rambunctious and full of energy. … So, it didn’t surprise me at all.”