April 11, 2009
NEW YORK — As if saying goodbye his three Navy SEAL teammates wasn’t enough, veteran Marcus Luttrell has now lost his dog Dasy, too.
The yellow Labrador was shot dead on Luttrell’s Huntsville, Texas, property on April 1.
The killing resulted in a high-speed car case, as Luttrell hounded the accused killers through four different counties before two of the men were arrested with charges of cruelty to a non-livestock animal.
Dasy wasn’t just any household pet — she was given to Luttrell following his return to the United States in 2006 from Afghanistan. Luttrell was the sole SEAL team member to survive an intense June 2005 firefight with the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Dasy, named after each of Luttrell’s fallen peers, Daniel “Danny” Dietz, Matthew “Axe” Axelson and Michael “Yankee” Murphy, reportedly helped the SEAL overcome his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Her sudden death did not sit easy with Luttrell, who after hearing gunshots outside his house, went outside to investigate.
“He heard some people talking over on a road and went out to where they were,” said Lisa Block, spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Public Safety. “He saw they had a shot gun and nearby found his dog, Dasy, dead.”
The dog apparently did not die instantly from the gunshot wounds, Luttrell realized.
“I could tell she tried to get away because there was a blood trail. When I saw she was dead, the only thing that popped into my head was, I’ve got to take these guys out,” Luttrell said, according to The Associated Press.
After Luttrell confronted them, the men got into their car and fled; the SEAL continued to pursue them through three different counties, until they were stopped by the Onalaska Police Department.
Along the way on the chase, Luttrell placed a desperate call to 911, warning the dispatcher of his potential to strike, as well.
“I told them, ‘You need to get somebody out here because if I catch them I’m going to kill them,’ ” Luttrell recalled to The Houston Chronicle.
“I was trying to talk myself out of being who I am. Talking to myself about not doing the one thing I am good at.”
The Walker County Sheriff’s Department is now investigating the death of Dasy. It has already charged Michael John Edmonds II, 21, and Alfonzo Hernandez, 24, with animal cruelty charges. The crime could elicit up to two years in prison, Block said.
The SPCA International, which helps U.S. soldiers bring back the pets they adopted while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, has not spoken to Luttrell. He apparently left town following the incident.
Yet the organization has nevertheless organized a petition in support of prosecuting the alleged cruelty offenders to the greatest extent of the law, according to Stephanie Scroggs, SPCA International spokeswoman.
“We were just watching blogs and seeing the outrage in the online community and how people were so angry, of course, with this,” Scroggs said.
“We have first-hand knowledge of how important animals can be in helping our vets heal from emotional scars and battles. We wanted to help channel that outrage into a productive form of activism.”
The organization hopes to receive 5,000 signatures — by Thursday, it was already half-way there, Scroggs said. The petition was posted online only two days before.
“We’re just focused on getting the petition out there,” Scroggs continued. “The best thing we can do right now is to make sure these people face some serious justice.”
In 2006, Luttrell was awarded the Navy Cross for combat heroism. He was the sole survivor of operation RED WING, conducted in the Hindu-Kush mountain region of Afghanistan.
Luttrell and his team, working remotely, were discovered by more than 200 Taliban fighters. Sixteen Special Forces personnel, including eight SEALs, perished in the confrontation. It was the largest single-day loss of life in SEALs’ history.
Lutrell, though wounded, survived by crawling several miles through the mountain range. He was eventually discovered by anti-Taliban village people and taken under their wing.
Dasy had proved instrumental in helping Luttrell recover from the emotional trauma he endured.
“I consider that dog just like a daughter to me,” he said, according to the SPCA International.
To sign the SPCA’s petition, visit SPCA.com.
The Associated Press and The Houston Chronicle contributed to this article.
Amy Lieberman is a staff reporter for Zootoo Pet News. To contact her, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org