The Indiana Department of Natural Resources issued this statement Sunday:
"It’s deer hunting season, doggone it!
"Last year in Union County, multiple complaints were made about pet dogs that were shot or went missing during deer season. Indiana Conservation Officers would like to remind all residents that shooting or killing a dog is a serious crime. Indiana Code 35-46-3-12 specifies that maiming or killing a dog is a class D Felony punishable by up to 3 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Even if a dog wanders onto someone’s private property while they are hunting, it is still a crime to shoot the dog. Here are some questions that have come up about this topic:
"1. What if I thought it was a coyote?
Game identification is a very important part of hunting. No ethical hunter will take a shot at something he isn’t completely sure what it is. If you are having trouble figuring out the difference between a coyote and a domesticated dog, you should take a break and study your wildlife ID some more.
"2. Does it matter if it gets shot with an arrow?
In the law, there is no distinction between shooting a dog with a firearm or archery equipment.
"3. Isn’t there some kind of exemption to the law; I thought if it came on my land I could shoot it?
The exemptions in the law relate to protecting people from injury and protecting property from substantial damage, not because a dog may interfere with a hunt.
"4. Well I spend a lot of time getting ready for the big hunt, isn’t there some law that someone has to keep their dog on a leash? If they violate that law, don’t I have a right to shoot the dog?
Someone violating a law does not automatically give you the right to violate another law. In addition, according to IC 15-20-1-4, a nonaggressive dog that wanders onto agricultural or forested land does not commit any violation.
"Dog owners are encouraged to be courteous this time of year and make sure they don’t allow their pets to roam and disrupt hunters. Shooting a dog is not only illegal, but it greatly tarnishes the image and respect of hunters everywhere. Because of this, in Union County some prime hunting ground has already been closed to current and future hunters. All hunters are reminded that not only is it important to follow the law, but continue to promote the image of the ethical hunter. Our heritage and livelihood depend on it.
"Media contact: Conservation Officer David D. Taylor, DNR Law Enforcement, 765-580-1962"