GOODLAND — Authorities are investigating the shooting of a 10-pound dog last week in a Goodland mobile home park.
Hotkee, a white Shih Tzu-Chihuahua mix, underwent surgery at Big Cypress Animal Clinic after the 12:45 p.m. Wednesday shooting and survived. However, officers with Domestic Animal Services and the Collier County Sheriff's Office are investigating.
Jack Swisher, 89, of Drop Anchor Mobile Home Park, said Monday he shot the dog, but contends it was an accident from a ricochet.
"The bullet's still stuck in his chest," Hotkee's owner, Mark "Smitty" Schmitt, said of the pellet from Swisher's air gun. "He's got a big wound in his arm. He's the cutest thing you've ever seen."
On Monday, Hotkee — Seminole for "white" — sat in Schmitt's lap, his tail wagging, a scar on his left elbow, as Dr. David Randall of Big Cypress Animal Clinic gave him an update.
Hotkee was slightly anemic from the blood loss and still needed antibiotics for his wound, Randall said, adding: "He's going to live."
Hotkee was released to Schmitt on Thursday after he was stabilized and removed from oxygen after surgery a day earlier. So far, Schmitt has spent more than $1,000 in vet bills.
"The deputies came by and wanted to know about retrieving the pellet," Randall said. "I told them why I couldn't give it to them. I run the possibility of the dog dying of respiratory failure. It went through his elbow and it ricocheted between the ribs and lodged in the lung tissue, 1 millimeter away from the heart."
The pellet showed in the X-rays, a small white mass surrounded by lines of ribs.
A Collier sheriff's report says Swisher's neighbor, Kay Tabor, and a county health inspector, David George, heard a pop and a loud yelping coming from a dog.
"Kay looked out her window and observed a small white dog running and limping," the report says, adding that she began to chase the dog, then saw Swisher standing outside with what appeared to be a rifle.
The report says she yelled at him for shooting the dog and that Swisher replied, "Yes, I did and I burnt him good."
The report says she found the dog in Schmitt's bushes.
"I love that little dog. I knew he was hurt because he was yelping and crying so bad," Tabor said in an interview Monday. "He was bleeding and had a small hole in his upper left shoulder."
Swisher, meanwhile, "was standing there with the gun in his hand," she said, adding it's the same gun he uses to shoot out over the docks to protect Purple Martins from other birds.
She's angry Swisher now calls the dog shooting an accident: "He said, 'I hit him in the leg. He'll be fine.' So he knew where he hit him."
Swisher denied trying to hurt the dog, noting that he likes dogs and raised pointers and setters for hunting.
"He'd been messing up in my wife's flowers," Swisher said as he sat in his home Monday with his wife, Bobbie, 83. "I didn't intend to hit the dog. I wanted to scare the dog. It was an accident … The fact that I hit him was a surprise to me."
Bobbie Swisher said she's angry every time she gardens and kneels in dog poop.
Jack Swisher said Schmitt's friend urged him to go to Stan's Idle Hour Restaurant, where Schmitt works, saying he owed him an apology, but Schmitt wouldn't talk and took off.
"He's a cute little dog," Swisher said. "But he belongs on a leash — and that's the law."