Mike Fontaine wishes his life could go back to the way it was.
On the morning of May 6, his 9-year-old dog Kerby was fatally shot across the road from his house in Belle Plaine Township. Last week, the Scott County Sheriff’s Office announced someone turned themselves in.
“I don’t think he would have if not for the pressure he was under with all the publicity that was generated by all you wonderful people,” Fontaine wrote on Facebook Friday.
While Fontaine is relieved at the prospect of justice being served, he still wishes he could have just one more hour with Kerby.
“He was like the perfect friend, he never complained about anything, he’d always be there,” Fontaine said. “When I came home from work he was always the first one to say ‘hi.’”
Kerby was one of Fontaine’s four German Shepherds. He owned the rescue dog for five years and believes its past contributed to its loving nature.
“He came from a home that didn’t have time for him. He spent a lot of time in a kennel, so when he came out here he fit in like hand in glove,” Fontaine said.
The dog rarely crossed the road outside Fontaine’s house. The dogs have a mile of land they can explore in the opposite direction, Fontaine said.
“I have no idea why he went over there the day he was shot. None whatsoever. He didn’t roam,” he said.
Fontaine remembers letting the dogs out of the house around 6:45 a.m. before returning to bed. Shortly after 8 a.m., he received a text message from a neighbor who said they saw Kerby in the ditch and suspected the dog had been shot. Fontaine jumped in his car and drove over.
“Sure enough, he was lying in the ditch,” Fontaine said. “He was still alive and pawing at the ground where he couldn’t get up.”
Fontaine saw very little blood on the ground around Kerby. He returned Kerby to the house and called a friend who had served as a dog handler in the military and asked for advice.
“He said to make him comfortable, give him an Aspirin and see how he progresses,” Fontaine said.
Fontaine followed the advice and called the police. Fontaine examined Kerby and found the bullet hadn’t fully exited the dog, so he removed it. Fontaine measured the bullet and determined it to be a .357 caliber before handing it over to law enforcement. Fontaine and his girlfriend cared for Kerby over the next day while deputies investigated.
The following day, things took a turn for the worse shortly after Kerby vomited. Fontaine cleaned up the mess and laid beside the dog.
“The next thing I know, he closed his eyes and stopped breathing,” Fontaine said, still shaken by the memory.
Up until the end, Fontaine held out hope Kerby would recover. Fontaine said he has a lot of experience with animals and knows they often show pain in their eyes — something he never saw in Kerby.
“I told him ‘We’re not done with our walks yet buddy, you’ll be out running around shortly,’” he said. “I kept looking at his eyes and they were always clear and bright.”
Fontaine’s strong relationship with dogs is obvious: When he got choked up talking about Kerby, they immediately came over to investigate and wouldn’t leave until he patted and reassured them. The other dogs show signs of depression — particularly Jet, a fellow rescue dog, who is despondent.
“He’s depressed as all hell,” Fontaine said. “He doesn’t have his buddy to lean on.”
Fontaine took four days off work to nurse Kerby and then deal with the loss. In the time he has had to grieve, Fontaine has emerged with a new perspective on life.
“Anybody that reads this story, I want them to spend more time with their loved ones: their pets, their girlfriends, their boyfriends, their husbands, their wives and tell them they love them every day,” Fontaine said. “Because you don’t know when you’re going to lose them.”