A man who was shot in the torso by his pet dog has said the animal “didn’t mean to do it” and is “very loving”.
Speaking to ABC News, Mr Gilligan said he loaded his pickup truck with his shotgun and dogs in the back and was sitting in the driver's seat when he was shot.
Investigators believe that Charlie, a 120-pound Rottweiler mix, slipped and got his paw caught in the trigger of the gun and fired a shot at his unsuspecting owner.
“The gun was positioned in the truck with the barrel facing up, towards Mr. Gilligan,” Doña Ana County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Kelly Jameson told ABC News.
Mr Gilligan said he initially thought he had been hit by a sniper from a distance.
“I thought who was that?“ Mr Gilligan. ”I was there, isolated, nobody was around.“
“I had a gaping hole, you know, and a lot of blood there too. I could see the blood and I felt it.”
Despite having a serious injury, Mr Gilligan was able to roll out of the truck and call emergency services, who found him lying next to his truck with a gunshot wound to the chest.
“The investigation is being handled as an accidental shooting,” Ms Jameson said.
Mr Gilligan has three broken ribs, a punctured lung and a broken scapula and is currently being treated at the University Medical Centre of EL Paso in Texas, where doctors determined it would be best to leave the bullet inside him, for fear of damaging his pierced lung.
The dog owner, who first told officers he had accidentally shot himself, said he had long forgiven Charlie.
“Charlie did not mean to do it,” he said. ”He’s a good dog.”
Mr Gilligan said he would not have survived if had not managed to make the call.
“If they waited 10 more minutes I would’ve died," he said.
"I lost so much blood. I know I actually passed to the other side just before getting to the hospital but they were able to revive me through CPR and bring me back. I have so much appreciation to the doctors and first-responders who saved my life.”
He said all three of his dogs had been briefly sent to the Animal Service Centre of the Mesilla Valley, or as he referred to it, “jail”.
“Truth is, Charlie’s a big, loving dog and would never hurt anybody on purpose,” he said.
According to Las Cruces Sun-News, Mr Gilligan’s son Mark, is not surprised the incident occurred.
“They [the dogs] are kind of rowdy. They’re pretty rambunctious and full of energy,” he said. “That’s why the owners gave them up. My dad has four acres of land so they can run free. So, it didn’t surprise me at all.”
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