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Comfort Dog Helped Family Heal After Vegas. Then, a Shooting

'He was such a blessing'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 7, 2018 12:34 AM CDT
The Johnsons got Jax as a comfort dog after they survived last October's mass shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas.   (Joseph Johnson/Family photo via AP)

(Newser) – A Washington state family that survived the mass shooting last year at a Las Vegas concert says a neighbor shot and killed the dog they got to deal with stress and anxiety from the attack. The neighbor was cited by police for recklessly firing a gun. Lona and Joseph Johnson were at the Route 91 Harvest music fest in October when a gunman shot and killed 58 people and injured hundreds of others, the Bellingham Herald reports. Among the wounded was their cousin, Melinda Brockie, who attended the festival with them. The couple heard that dogs are good pets to help heal from post-traumatic stress, Joseph Johnson says, so they picked out a labradoodle named Jax.

The comfort dog was for themselves and their two children, who weren't at the concert but knew their parents had been shot at. "He was such a blessing," Joseph Johnson says. "I really believe Jax was a big part of our healing." Early Sunday, they heard gunshots. They say a neighbor in their rural community shot and killed Jax. The Whatcom County Sheriff's Office says it cited the neighbor, 49-year-old Odin Maxwell, for recklessly discharging a firearm, the AP reports. The sheriff's office reported that Maxwell said the dog had been chasing his chickens. Investigators turned up no evidence that any chickens had been hurt. The Johnsons are considering suing Maxwell. They also plan to host a 5K run for people with their dogs to raise awareness about animal cruelty.

(Read more mass shootings stories.)

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