By John Lauritsen

ELK RIVER, Minn. (WCCO) — An Elk River family is looking for answers after a family pet was shot and killed in broad daylight.

It happened around 11:30 a.m. on Nov. 20. Matt and Melissa St. Clair say a neighbor ran to their home and told them their black lab, Willow, was dying in a neighbor’s driveway.

They rushed the dog to the vet, but Willow died before they could get there.

“She was a sweet dog. I compared her to a dog you’d see at a ski chalet. You could pet her and she was a sweetheart,” Matt said.

A few minutes after the dogs ventured out that morning, a neighbor showed up at the front door.

“‘You have two black labs?’ My wife answered the door and said yes. She said, ‘I think one of them is dying in the driveway,'” Matt said.

Matt found Willow a couple houses away. She was lying on her side and bleeding.

elk river dog shot Who Fatally Shot This Elk River Dog?

(credit: St. Clair family)

“When I walked up to her, she was still alive and she recognized that I was there,” Matt said.

Thinking she’d been hit by a car, they loaded Willow into Matt’s truck and he did chest compressions on the way to the vet. But Willow died before they got there — and that’s when the questions really began.

“When I flipped her over, that’s when they discovered she had a bullet hole in her rib cage,” Matt said.

Someone had shot Willow in the heart with a pellet gun. Not knowing who or why has made the situation even more tragic for Matt and Melissa’s three children, and for their remaining family dog, Ivy.

“She’ll go in the backyard and bark at the woods. I don’t know if she’s barking for her, or just barking,” Melissa said. “I think she misses her.”

As the St. Clairs grieve, they’re also searching for answers, wondering who would take the life of a beloved family pet.

“I hate to see anything like this happen to any other dog — not just in our neighborhood, but anywhere else around here,” Melissa said.

Part of their family is now missing.

“It’s a whole family that’s been grieving. It’s a family member that’s been lost. It’s trust in the neighborhood,” said Matt.

Matt said that both Ivy and Willow have wireless radio collars that keep them close to home, but Willow’s wasn’t working that day, allowing her to wander a couple houses away.

The St. Clairs are offering a $1,000 reward that leads police to the person who shot Willow. Police say if anyone knows anything about this case, they are urged to call the department at 763-635-1260.

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