The sound of a gun shot may signal victory for hunters during deer season, but for three Iron Range, Minnesota dog owners the shot triggered fear.
"I'm scared if they shoot my dogs, they might shoot somebody on their land, they might shoot whatever goes on their land," dog owner Alexis Gunderson said.
The dog owners say they were doing chores outside on Saturday afternoon when their two pure bred German Shepherds ran off playfully into the woods, not far from a hunting stand on nearby property.
"They would have ran maybe 30 seconds before they were shot," dog owner Shannon Hautala said.
When the dog owner confronted the hunters, they denied shooting the dogs.
After conducting an investigation and speaking with area residents, authorities say the case is at a standstill unless someone comes forward with proof.
"You have to have some sort of a bullet that you can track back to the gun, and also you'd have to have some kind of a witness that would show you, or tell you that they saw them do it, otherwise the person has to admit to doing it," Lt. Edward Kippley of the Virginia Sheriff's Department said.
The dog owners say they found the first dog Makita about 30 yards from the hunting stand and the second dog Devaki another 30 yards away.
A trail of blood still remains on the ground.
"All they said is they can shoot anything that comes on their land and if the dogs come on their land, they can shoot them," dog owner Gary Kuoppala said.
"And right when he said that, Gary leaned down and saw his dog in the woods, dead," Hautala added.
Authorities continue to investigate the case and say the hunters could face charges of damage to private property.
Under Minnesota law, conservation officers are the only people who may shoot a dog if they are witnessed wounding or killing big game at any time of year.
Any person may kill a dog if they witness it wounding or killing big game between January 1st and July 14th if firearms are allowed to be shot in the area.