Rescue dog fatally shot in Dorchester backyard

BOSTON — A Dorchester teen was arrested for fatally shooting a dog while apparently fleeing a shooting on a nearby street Sunday morning.

Julia Roehrich and her 4-year-old rescue Comet were in their Devon Street backyard around 11 a.m., when they heard gunfire. As Roehrich called police, she heard the gate creak open, an expletive shouted and then one shot.

An 85-pound likely pit bull-Labrador retriever mix, Comet was known to greet people at the gate with a wagging tail.

“A single shot, and then Comet just started screaming and crying and he ran back,” Roehrich said. “And he went down into the basement where he hides during thunderstorms.”

With help, Roehrich rushed Comet to Angell Animal Medical Center. The bullet had pierced his shoulder blade and exited his groin.

A kidney, his spleen and eight inches of his colon were removed. But the trauma was too much. He developed an infection and then sepsis. His remaining kidney could not handle filtering the toxins in his body. He was also internally bleeding.

“Monday night he had a seizure, and Tuesday morning he had another seizure. And he passed away after the second one,” Roehrich said. “The whole neighborhood…was really rooting for him, especially when they saw me carrying him to my car.”

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As Comet fought to live, friends and dog lovers donated thousands of dollars to a GoFundMe account to help cover his medical bills. Roehrich is now coordinating returning money to some donors, as the amount they collected exceeded the final bill since Comet lost his fight early.

Roehrich is now mourning the loss of her baby, initially a foster dog whom she bonded with so much during the pandemic she couldn’t give him up.

“It’s really hard, because my home smells like him, his fur is everywhere. It’s hard to be in the backyard,” Roehrich said. “He was a big dog, and he looked scary, but he is such a gentle giant. There’s not a single person who’s met Comet who doesn’t love him.”

Boston Police arrested Antonio Moore, 18, of Dorchester on charges of malicious killing of a domestic animal, unlawful possession of a firearm, unlawful possession of ammunition and discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling. Moore will be arraigned in Dorchester District Court, the department said in a news release.

Roehrich said she hopes people learn from her tragedy that bad decisions can have devastating effects on victims.

“I just don’t understand why this guy had to come through our backyard and shoot my dog in our yard when he had no right or reason to be back there at all,” Roehrich said. “Comet has never hurt anyone or anything, and he wouldn’t. So, it’s just frustrating for him to be an innocent bystander and for him to be targeted this way.”