Hunter shoots, kills dog he mistook for coyote

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WHITEHOUSE STATION -

A family in Hunterdon County says it is devastated after a hunter accidentally shot their beloved dog with a crossbow after mistaking it for a coyote.

Elizabeth Mongno says that she was walking with her 1-year-old Husky Tonka when the dog ran off to chase after a deer near their home in the Whitehouse Station section of Readington. She says that she ran after him, but that he was dead the next time she saw him.

“I was right behind the sheds…and I heard a pop. And then I heard a yip,” Elizabeth Mongno says. "He got shot right in the side in the heart and there was blood everywhere."

Police responded and found the hunter, Romeo Antonuccio of Kenilworth. He has been charged with careless discharge and damage of property after he told police that while trying to shoot deer from a tree stand he thought Tonka was a coyote. 

Hunters are allowed to shoot coyote under New Jersey law. Antonuccio did have permission to be in one of the neighboring backyards. But officials say that he didn't have permission to be on the track of woods where Tonka was found.

Jim Mongno says that he doesn’t believe the hunter’s story. He says that it’s improbable to mistake Tonka for a coyote.

“[Tonka] had the dog collar. It had the leash. It’s got to be 40 to 50 pounds heavier than a coyote,” he says. “[Antonuccio] probably heard the dog in there and the deer running around. Got pissed off at the dog and probably walked over there.”

Jim Mongno says that neighbors should have to notify each other when they are putting hunters in the woods, especially in a residential area.

Antonuccio must appear in court to face the charges in November.

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