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Police investigate shooting of dog at Claremont park

  • Taysa Combs is seen with her mastiff-boxer mix dog Gunner during a walk around Claremont, N.H., in an undated photograph. (Courtesy photograph)

  • Gunner, a mastiff-boxer mix, was shot at Moody Park in Claremont, N.H., on May 26, 2019. (Courtesy Taysa Combs)

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 5/28/2019 2:09:56 PM
Modified: 5/29/2019 2:13:25 PM

CLAREMONT — Police said on Tuesday they are investigating the shooting of a dog near the fenced-in tennis courts in Monadnock Park but are providing few details at this point, including the name of the alleged shooter.

The incident occurred just before 6 on Sunday evening, leaving Gunner, a mastiff-boxer mix, with a wound to his front right leg, according to his owner Taysa Combs.

Combs said in a Facebook video on Tuesday that Gunner had come through surgery successfully.

She said the veterinarian put rods in Gunner’s injured leg and attached it to the bone marrow because the bone is disintegrated. The dog has two external rods as well.

“Right now, the problem is blood supply to the leg and foot as well as nerve damage,” Combs said. “The bullet hit a major artery that supplies blood.”

Combs cautioned that it is still too early to say whether Gunner will lose his leg, but initially, she believed “amputation was inevitable.”

“It is not what we were looking for, but we are so grateful our baby pulled through,” Combs said.

In a news release from Capt. Alex Lee, police said when they went to the scene, the person who shot the dog had left but he also contacted police.

Combs said in a video posted on Facebook that she was exercising her pet on some empty tennis courts at the park and that the dog pushed through a gate as a couple who had come to play tennis unlatched it.

“Gunner got his head out and was happy to be out,” Combs said in the video. “At that time, the guy started running from him. I said, ‘Don’t run, he’s going to think you’re playing with him.’ ”

Combs said the man, who was dressed to play tennis, pulled out a gun, Gunner started barking, and the man shot the dog before “he and his girlfriend ran away.”

She said Gunner, who she has owned since he was 3 months old, turned 2 on Saturday and “wouldn’t hurt a flea. He’s the biggest love bug you ever came across.”

Authorities said when the investigation is complete, it will be reviewed by the Sullivan County Attorney’s Office to see if criminal charges are merited.

Under New Hampshire law, a person may kill a dog “that suddenly assaults the person while such person is peaceably walking or riding without the enclosure of its owner or keeper.”

Lee also said there is no ordinance prohibiting gun possession in city parks.

While posted park rules prohibit cats and dogs from being in any fenced area, including baseball fields and tennis courts, Combs said she sees other dog owners do it all the time.

“That is where I got the idea from,” she said in a phone interview on Tuesday.

She said Gunner was shot just outside the gate that opens to the courts.

Combs said she and Gunner were alone on the courts when the couple approached to play tennis. She asked that they wait before opening the gate and allow her to put Gunner on his leash. But the man began opening the gate and Gunner pushed out. While Combs said she told the man Gunner would not harm him, that is when the man started yelling and Gunner began barking.

“Before I knew it, he shot him,” Combs said in the video.

Combs said on Tuesday the only thing the man said before shooting Gunner was “he is coming at me.”

When Combs first saw the gun, she said it was small and not knowing anything about gun thought it may be a BB gun.

“I thought he might be trying to scare me,” she said.

The man and his companion exited the park on foot at the Chestnut Street entrance, which is where they came in, Combs said.

She said the experience has given her pause to think about visiting the park again.

“I’m still in fear,” she said, wondering why someone would need to carry a gun when they play tennis.

Though her 8-year-old son was not with her this time, the incident scared him also, Combs said.

“He said, ‘Mom, I don’t want to go to the park again,’ ” she said.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at

Taysa Combs said she took this Facebook video of her dog, Gunner, shortly before the shooting in Claremont on Sunday.

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