Knoxville (WVLT) - One East Tennessee couple is getting ready for Christmas without their dog after he was shot in their own fenced in backyard Thursday night.
Pets are like family to so many people, especially Elaine LaDue and Harold Smith of North Knoxville.
They say their friendly Boston Terrier-Cocker Spaniel mix was shot and killed before their very eyes for no reason Thursday night.
"We went out on the back deck to have a cigarette, finish our last glass of wine," as always, Elaine LaDue and Harold Smith, took their three dogs with them outside after dinner. "They went down the steps to go do their business. They hadn't much more than cleared the bottom step when we heard the sound and Nicky yelped."
"I seen the blood coming out of his side, brought him in, we called the cops," says Harold.
Both say they saw a man under their neighbor's porch shoot Nicky in the stomach through their fence, "Right under there," Harold says.
But he ran off.
"A young man, slender built, wearing a washed-out yellow t-shirt," Elaine says.
"I told the neighbor next door, one of your friends just shot my dog. He's like, I don't have a clue what you're talking about," Harold says.
Smith and LaDue rushed Nicky to the emergency pet clinic.
"I knew I was going to lose him," Harold says.
Where he died two hours later.
"For somebody to shoot through my fence and kill my dog in my backyard, I feel violated," he says.
Smith brought Nicky home for LaDue about five years ago Friday.
"We brought him home for a Christmas baby, and that's why he's called Nicholas. He was called Nicky after [Saint] Nicholas," Elaine says.
And this Christmas they'll be remembering Nicky, instead of celebrating with him.
"It's pretty much ruined it," Harold says.
"His toys, his jackets, his sweaters, all had been bought," Elaine says.
Smith and LaDue say they've lost a close family member.
"They're not just animals and pets. They're little beings with souls, as well," says LaDue.
"He was almost like my kid," adds Harold.
A playful pup, the couple says didn't deserve to die this way.
"The dog can't hurt nobody," Harold says. "The person that did this needs to go to jail for a long time."
"There's no reason this should've happened, not this level of violence. That was just a senseless killing," adds Elaine.
The couple says they saw the man with a co2 air rifle. They say there's never been any animosity between them and their neighbors, so they're not sure who this man is.
Kid says they're still investigating this, and the most-likely charge would be cruelty to animals.
The couple says they fear for their own safety right now and the safety of their two other dogs.