NEWS- Who shot Griffey? Mysterious dog wounding riles neighborhood

Griffey had been gone for only 25 minutes after slipping through a hole in the fence, but as soon as he came home, his owners knew something was wrong with their three-year-old black miniature poodle.

"His tail was tucked, he was shaking all over," says Pam Grobmyer, who lives in the Fieldbrook subdivision near Carrsbrook on 29 North. Concerned, Grobmyer called the vet and took Griffey in to be checked. "We thought he was having a seizure," she says. But she and her husband soon learned otherwise.

"When we got there and I put him down," she says, "I had blood on my hands."

Looking at the tiny puncture wound on Griffey's side, both the Grobmyers and their vet initially assumed the 12-pound pooch had been bitten by another dog, but the next day– when Griffey hadn't responded to treatment– the family learned the shocking truth. Griffey hadn't been bitten; he'd been shot.

"His injuries were terrible," says his veterinarian, Kathi Gruss at Earlysville Animal Hospital. The pellet, likely from a C02 air rifle, "went in from the side in front of his back leg into his abdomen," Gruss says, "then tore through intestine and lodged in his colon," leaving Griffey with a life-threatening infection called peritonitis.

Upon learning the nature of Griffey's February 26 injury, Grobmyer reported the incident to the Albemarle County Police, who took the mushroom-shaped pellet as evidence, and, Grobmyer adds, told her they'd conduct an investigation.

Animal control officer W.D. Maiden, heading the investigation, did not return the Hook's calls.

C02 pellet rifles– a type of B.B. gun using pressurized gas– are typically used for target practice or for dispatching small pests.

"A lot of people use them for squirrels in their yard," says Jackson Bromley at Woodbrook Sporting Goods, "because it doesn't make a lot of noise." Grobmyer doesn't believe someone mistook Griffey for a squirrel. Instead, she believes there are two possible ways Griffey could have been shot, and neither is comforting.

"It either had to be at short range," she says, suggesting a deliberate shooting, "or it was a high powered rifle" with pellets capable of traveling great distance. If the latter, Grobmyer fears a child playing in the woods could be next.

Some neighbors share her fear.

"Obviously, it's very disturbing that a dog like that could be shot with a weapon that could almost kill it," says Gabe Rossman, who lives next door to the Grobmyers with his wife, Pam, and their 18-month-old daughter. Rossman says he often plays with his daughter in the woods behind their house. "It's very disturbing to know someone can legally get one of these pellet guns, and the danger it poses to animals and small children," he says.

Though Grobmyer says she has suspicions about who may have shot Griffey, she wonders whether the perpetrator will ever be brought to justice. And beyond solving the mystery, she says, she'd like to see some money.

After surgery to remove more than a foot of his intestine– "a third of his entire GI tract," Gruss says– Griffey was still not out of the woods. Gruss recommended the Grobmyers take him to a critical care veterinary hospital in Richmond. Griffey's five days of treatment cost the Grobmyers $4,000.

"If we found out who did this," she says, "it would be paid for by their homeowners insurance."

Gruss, however, says catching the shooter may be more important than anyone realizes– particularly if the act was deliberate.

"There are many, many studies that show that abuse of pets leads to abuse of people," she says. "It isn't ever just a little childish prank; it's always an indicator of worse problems brewing."

Griffey, a miniature poodle, survived a shooting from a CO2 pellet gun.