Rash of vanishing pets in the Bridgewater area, resident reports
A little girl lost her beloved pet, and her parents lost their sense of security after a high-powered rifle was used to kill one of their farm’s cattle-guarding dogs in a neighborhood on the outskirts of Ellisville.
“She keeps asking where he is, and we’re having to explain that he’s not coming home,” Mit Cole said of how he and wife Amber are dealing with 2-1/2-year-old daughter Vivian’s reaction to the death of Tango, their 10-month-old Great Pyrenees.
“We’re sad our dog was shot … we’re all distraught,” Cole said. “But the bigger picture is that someone shot an assault rifle in a residential area, 200 yards away from where our daughter plays. It’s a straight line from where Tango was found to the sandbox where Vivian plays.”
The Coles got Highland cattle and started Tayco Farms in 2016 on their property at the edge of the upscale Bridgewater subdivision. They got Whiskey and Tango, a pair of Great Pyrenees, in June after foxes killed some chickens and coyotes killed some calves.
It seemed that the threats to their animals were over until about two weeks ago, when Tango went missing.
They heard what they thought were fireworks around 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 23.
“With all of our neighbors, we really didn’t think anything about it,” Cole said.
But when Tango didn’t show up the next morning, they got concerned. Amber found the family pet dead inside their north fence line at the end of Danmar Drive.
“He had been shot through the front shoulder with what looked like an AR-type rifle,” Cole said.
Based on the side the bullet hit and where Tango was, Cole believes he knows who shot his dog, but he can’t prove it.
“Tango was found 40 yards from his front door,” Cole said.
Since then, at least three other people reported hearing eight to 10 shots from that same residence around the same time that night, Cole said. He filed a report with the Jones County Sheriff’s Department and Sheriff Alex Hodge came and spoke to the Home Owners’ Association meeting on Monday night, Cole said.
“I’m happy with the way they’re handling it,” Cole said. “They’ve been very responsive and very professional.”
The subdivision is in the county, but there are covenants that prohibit the discharging of a firearm in the residential area, Cole said.
Since he went public with what happened to Tango, Cole has since learned that about a half-dozen other residents in the area have also had cats and dogs come up missing.
“Watch your pets since apparently it is open season at the end of Danmar Drive,” he posted on Facebook.
He asked that residents report any shots they hear in the area to the JCSD.
Cole, a former LSU football player who is now a banker at The First, went to talk to the suspect himself before reporting his dog’s death to authorities.
“I confronted him, but he just sulled up and said he didn’t know anything about it,” Cole said.
Even if the neighbor thought that the dog was a coyote, “it makes no sense to shoot toward another residence,” Cole said. “What if my daughter had been out there playing?”
His wife’s family has owned the property for almost 40 years, “and there’s never been a problem,” he said.
Now they’ve opened their farm for visitors to come see the special Scottish cattle, and they’re concerned about a shooter who is either negligent or malicious being nearby.
“I’ve got a lot of money out there,” Cole said of his registered cattle. “I will take steps to protect them and my family.”
More surveillance cameras will be placed around the property along with “Posted” signs, he said.
It’s uncertain what can be done about the shooting from a legal standpoint. But an arrest and charge isn’t what Cole wants most.
“I just think he needs to answer some questions,” Cole said of the suspect. “He needs to take ownership of his actions.”