Friendly Fire: Hunting Dog Shoots Owner With Shotgun

‘I actually passed to the other side just before getting to the hospital,’ said the 74-year-old hunter after his dog shot him from the back seat of his pickup.

Sonny “Tex” Gilligan swears Charlie, his 120-pound Rottweiler mix, is a good boy. This even after Gilligan endured several surgeries to save his life after Charlie fired Gilligan’s shotgun from point-blank range inside his pickup truck, according to the El Paso Times.

Gilligan told reporters he took his three dogs — Charlie, Cowboy, and Scooter — out to hunt jackrabbits in the desert west of Las Cruces last week. But after parking, Gilligan moved to get out of the truck when a bizarre turn of events nearly cost him his life.

“Charlie got his foot in the trigger of the gun, and I leaned forward, and he slipped off the seat and caught the trigger — and it shot,” Gilligan told the Times. “It was a freak accident, but it’s true, that’s what happened.”

While it sounds almost too silly to be true, the shot went through the driver’s seat and nearly killed him. It shattered Gilligan’s collarbone, broke several ribs, and caused several other serious injuries. Though he managed to call 911 when it happened, Gilligan said he was mere moments from death when the Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Office arrived.

“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.”

Gilligan underwent several surgeries, but doctors said they expect him to recover, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican.

Following the incident, authorities took all three of Gilligan’s dogs to the Animal Service Center of the Mesilla Valley. Gilligan’s son, Mark, told KRQE the 74-year-old was worried less for himself than for his pets, stuck in what he called “doggy jail.”

“Poor Charlie, he’s a good dog,” Gilligan told the Times. “The sheriff’s department said the only one they had trouble with was Cowboy. The other two were friendly. Charlie is the boss, but he’s gentle.”


Adam Ruggiero is an all-sport activity junkie - from biking, running, and (not enough) surfing, to ball sports, camping, and cattle farming. If it's outside, it's worth doing. Adam graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BA in journalism. Likes: unique beer, dogs, stories. Like nots: neckties, escalators, manicured lawns.