When Sonny "Tex" Gilligan was shot in the back, he initially thought he was being fired on from outside his vehicle. Then he remembered the shotgun he had left in the backseat of his pickup with Charlie, his 120-pound Rottweiler mix, and two other dogs. The 74-year-old, who was sitting in the driver's seat when he was shot, had brought the dogs to hunt jackrabbits in the desert near Las Cruces, New Mexico. "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 tells the Las Cruces Sun News. "It was a freak accident but it's true, that's what happened." He says Charlie is a good dog and it wasn't his fault.
Gilligan was able to call 911, but he says he lost so much blood he "passed to the other side" on the way to the hospital before he was revived with CPR. He was hospitalized with three broken ribs, a punctured lung, and a broken collarbone. He has undergone several surgeries since the Oct. 25 incident but doctors expect him to survive, ABC reports. His son, Mark Gilligan, has a lot of praise for the deputies who rushed to the scene 14 miles out of town. "The Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Office is the real hero here—without them, he was dead," he tells the Santa Fe New Mexican. He jokes that after the "rambunctious" dogs were taken to the pound, he had to "bust them out of jail." (This woman in Indiana was shot by a dog named Trigger.)