TYLER, Texas (KETK) – An East Texas family is left devastated after their dog was shot and left to die along the side of the road just a few weeks before Christmas.

The Mehling family is offering a $10,000 reward for information on who shot their dog Chief, who was a Therapet. He was only six and a half years old. Chief became a Therapet in February of 2020 to start helping families just weeks before the shutdown.

“Chief is the most gentle, slow-moving pet. He was loving,” said Patti Mehling, Chief’s Mom.

On Dec. 6, off of Eastside Road in Tyler the chocolate Labrador was shot while he was on his family’s large property.

“We had a neighbor call that he thought Chief had been hit and Doug was already in the pasture. We live on 70 acres and this happened just a few hundred yards from our house and Doug went over to get him,” said Mehling.

Chief was not known to hang out by the road, instead he enjoyed being around the Mehling family out in the pasture.

“Everybody that knows him, loves him. So we never considered that there was any foul play, but when we took him to the vet and they ran an X-ray to make sure that we didn’t have any broken bones. The vet discovered that Chief had been shot. And shot at close range,” said Mehling.

Before this incident, neighbors had seen similar cases with other dogs in the area going missing and warned the family to keep an extra eye out for their pets.

“He was a special animal that was absolutely… unbelievable. He was. I don’t know how you can explain the perfect dog,” said Doug Mehling, Cheif’s dad.

Chief was their daughter Alex’s best friend and helped her to get through difficult times of anxiety.

“I just have lost it.  I said ‘no… this cannot be happening.’ This is a nightmare,” said Alex Mehling.

The Mehlings are left torn as to why their gentle dog was killed.

“I feel like we are going to catch whoever did this. I really want to talk to the guy maybe a little more than just talk to him,” said Doug Mehling.

KETK spoke with the Smith County Sheriff’s Department about the investigation, this is what they had to say:

“The Smith County Sheriff’s Office is committed to conducting this investigation and using the resources necessary to perfect a criminal case against the responsible party who senselessly killed this Therapet canine.  Labrador Retrievers, by nature, are non-aggressive animals.  This is being investigated as a Cruelty to Animals case which is a Felony of the Third Degree, punishable by imprisonment of not more than ten years or less than two years.”

Sheriff Larry Smith, Smith County Sheriff’s Office

If you know any information that can help the Mehling family in solving this case, please call the Smith County Sheriff’s Office at 903-590-2661.