ISLE OF WIGHT CO, Va. (WVEC) -- PETA is offering a $5,000 reward to anyone who can help capture the person(s) responsible for the disappearance and killing of a family dog.
Ranger, a chocolate lab, went missing on Saturday, March 3, then was later found dead in a trash bag with what appeared to be a gunshot wound.
Hayden Coats says Ranger was more like family. Coats and his wife got Ranger when he was six weeks old.
"I can hardly think about it, it just kills me," Coats said. "He was like our kid, our entertainer our protector."
Coats tells 13News Now just a few days after their 4-year-old chocolate lab left the porch, it was his mom who found Ranger in the trash bag lying in a ditch Tuesday afternoon. According to sheriff's officials, someone shot Ranger.
Ranger's collar was found about a half mile from where he was found.
"Man I was ate up, it killed me," Coats said. "We figured he went to the swamp and would come back but he never did."
Officials weren't able to recover any evidence from the bag due to weather conditions.
Officers are searching for anyone who might have seen Ranger anywhere between March 3 and March 6 in order to determine a timeline for the dog's disappearance and death.
Ranger was a large chocolate Labrador and wore a bright orange collar with a nameplate.
Coats says right now all they want is closure.
"A dog like that I don't know why this would happen," Coats said. "He was looking to snuggle up or for a home, I think."
The reward is for information leading to the arrest and conviction on animal cruelty charges of whoever is responsible for this crime.
"Someone shot this beloved dog, bagged up his body, and dumped him on the side of the road," says PETA Vice President Colleen O'Brien. "PETA is calling on anyone who knows anything about this dog's disappearance or death to come forward immediately so that whoever killed him can be held accountable and stopped from hurting anyone else."
If anyone has heard any gunshots in the Carrollton, Eagle Harbor or Nike Park area or may know about the dog's whereabouts within the given time frame, you are encouraged to contact Animal Control at 757-365-6318.
You can also e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.