Gage was more than a family pet. In their own words, Gage was like one of the kids to his owners, a brother to their children. He was described as part of "the foundation that the Burke family is built upon". Several testimonies attest to him having a sweet, even-tempered, benevolent nature. He was a poster child for dog lovers.
His life was taken by a neighbor who shot him through the neck for reasons that are never made entirely clear. Their website shows some extremely graphic photos of the wound. Not only had Gage not trespassed, he was on his own property. If that weren't enough he died slowly and in pain. Imagine the anguish his owner Shana felt as he died in her arms.
Local authorities decided to charge the neighbor with animal cruelty and was found guilty earlier this week. Shana says in a post on MySpace, "...they played the VIDEO that Ray Stanfill [the neighbor] brought of Gage barking at him...I listened for a moment to hear the growls that Mr. Stanfill said were on the tape. After a minute I didn’t hear growling; only the same smooth voice of my little boy. Then the memories of that same bark while Gage was chasing a squirrel up a tree, rushed thru my body, knowing that I will never hear my babies [sic] bark again. I broke down again. The DA told me the video that Stanfill brought to help his case only hurt him... The jury was out for about 1 ½ hr. Then we came back into the court room to hear the verdict, I wanted to threw up, pass out, ect.[sic]. When she read the verdict, and I heard her voice say GUILTY. I was overwhelmed with emotions, I was so relieved and happy, and tears flew out of my eyes. I ...fell into my husband’s chest and cried like I have never cried before. I think at that moment was the first time I got to put my boxing gloves down, and grieve for my little man, my angel, my best friend, my son."
If you haven't started crying yet, there's more. "P.S. After we left the court house we came home and sit at Gages gravesite and told him everthing that happened , told him how much we love him, and how many pittbulls have been saved in his name. And what we are planning for the future..."
The Burkes are raising money in Gage's memory to help fight animal cruelty. Some of the funds already raised will go to help save the pets of families affected by Hurricane Gustav.
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