It was February 2017 when Darren Claydon’s dog was savagely shot from a point-blank range. More than a year later, the Savary Island is still reeling from the dog killing.
Claydon and his friendly Australian shepherd Maybe were having a nice off-leash walk through the bush. At one point, Maybe ran a bit forward a little bit and Claydon had to run after him. Before the man could catch up with his dog, however, a loud shot echoed through the air. Claydon ran into Eric Ferreira who was holding a .22 rifle. Having a rather bad feeling, Claydon asked “Did you see my dog?”, to which Ferreira answered that he’d seen Maybe running down the road.
“This was a lie,” Judge Nancy Adams writes in the later court ruling in the case. “Mr. Ferreira had just shot the dog one minute earlier.”
Eric Ferreira had just shot Maybe in the head from a point-blank range.
“The dog came towards him when called and looked at the gun he was holding. He shot the dog once in the head,” Adams writes.
“He said that he became mad when he saw the deer. He was so mad that he ‘saw black’ and shot the dog. He said he did not even realize initially that he had shot the dog.”
‘I shot their dog in a fit of rage’
However, Ferreira’s confession was quite late. Initially, after lying to Claydon, Ferreira went back to the shooting site and buried Maybe’s body. As it was February at the time, the falling snow quickly covered the dog’s grave and masked the murder.
In the meantime, Darren Claydon continued looking for Maybe, who he still hoped was just lost. And he wasn’t alone – Maybe was well-known to both residents and summer visitors to the island. Claydon drives a taxi on the island and Maybe was a constant companion.
Being quite popular among the island’s residents, Maybe’s search was quickly joined by others as well. Of course, none of them found the dead dog. It wasn’t until 10 days later when the snow started to melt and Maybe’s resting place was discovered.
It was Claydon’s partner, Hazel Hollingdale, who found the grave, thanks to some blood and sinew that had become visible under the bushes after the melting of the snow.
“She noticed Mr. Ferreira watching her from his truck as she discovered the partial remains of Maybe,” Adams writes.
What’s more, Ferreira confessed to Hollingdale’s friend the next day.
“I’ve done a bad thing. I have to be honest,” he said. “I shot their dog in a fit of rage.”
Apparently, Ferrera had been hunting deer at the time, and Maybe’s appearance had interfered with his hunt.
After the murder was made clear, things progressed quickly. Judge Adams suspended passing of sentence for Ferreira and placed him on probation for two years. Ferreira himself pleaded guilty to one count of discharging a firearm in contravention of the Wildlife Act. He has also been fined $2,000 for restitution to Claydon and has been prohibited from possessing firearms on Savary Island.
A year later, the island is divided on whether the ruling was just. Many, like Claydon and Hollingdale claim that the punishment wasn’t sufficient, as Maybe had led a blameless life and hadn’t displayed any aggression that could warrant the murder. Today, Claydon and Hollingdale are working with MPs and various organizations to promote harsher penalties for animal cruelty. If such penalties were in place a year ago, maybe Ferreira would have been more mindful and Maybe would still be alive today.