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Was killed in town of Powell while owner Matthew Bessler, 43, was hunting
Retired Army Ranger aided dog with PTSD and also suffers from condition
Does not believe dog was acting aggressively enough to warrant shooting
Cyclist, 59, was not injured in the incident or cited for any wrongdoing
Fundraising campaign to give Mike military funeral and burial has started
Mike, a nine-year-old Belgian Malinois, was killed in the small town of Powell while his owner and service partner, retired Army Ranger Matthew Bessler, 43, was hunting in the Bighorn Mountains.
There were no witnesses, but the Powell man told police he used his bike to shield himself from the attacking dog but finally shot the animal with a revolver from a distance of five to ten feet away.
The combat-turned-service dog had transitioned from helping his owner on the battlefield to aiding him with the fight against symptoms of post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) at home.
Bessler does not believe the cyclist’s claims that Mike, who was shot in the backside by the biker’s bicycle-mounted holstered revolver, was acting aggressively enough to warrant the shooting.
Bessler said: ‘He has his story.
‘I know my dog. I have my story.’
The retired Staff Sergeant added: ‘I would like to take a civil avenue to go after him – the gentleman that shot him – because Mike was a retired military officer.
‘I mean, it’s not just a wrongful use of force.
‘It’s way too soon. I mean, it’s every time I see him everywhere that I go.
‘Because he was, he was with me almost everywhere I went and he was always playing and he was always… he always wanted to play and everybody loved him.
‘Everybody could pet him.’
The Park County Sheriff’s Office has not cited the 59-year-old cyclist, who was not injured in the incident, for any wrongdoing, according to the Powell Tribune.
Park County Sheriff Scott Steward said: ‘Essentially, if you feel your life is in danger or threatened by an animal, you can act against it.’
What, if anything, will happen remains unclear, but a GoFundMe account for Mike was created.
‘We are a community coming together to mourn the loss of a brave military service dog, who deserves the honor to be laid to rest with a military funeral and burial,’ according to the account.
‘This soldier was found fatally wounded by his owner and friend Matt Bessler (also a military war veteran) after Matt returned home from a hunting trip.
‘Major Mike is a former military combat dog that had served two tours of duty in Iraq.
‘Please help us fund a funeral that will do this military war veteran the respect he deserves.’
Extra donations will be distributed to a program that honors and supports military war veterans.