Kansas Man Dies After His Pet Dog Accidentally Shoots Him During Hunting Trip

Officials in Kansas say a man has died after he was shot by his dog in a freak hunting accident.

Joseph Austin Smith, 30, of Witchita, was killed Saturday morning when his dog discharged the gun while they both were inside his pickup truck, the Sumner County Sheriff's Office said in a series of press releases.

Dog Stepped on the Rifle Causing it to Discharge

Joseph Smith
Joseph Smith with his pet dog. GoFundMe

Police said the accident took place in Geuda Springs. The victim was sitting in the front passenger seat of his vehicle when the canine "stepped on the rifle" in the back seat, according to the department.

Deputies responded to a 911 call about 9:47 a.m. Saturday about a man with a gunshot wound on his back inside a pickup truck. The sheriff's office said teams arrived within minutes of the call and, after finding Smith in the front passenger seat of the truck, started CPR life-saving measures. However, the SCSO said the victim "died of his injuries" at the scene of the shooting.

The dog, which belongs to the truck's owner, was in the back seat of the truck with hunting gear — including the rifle — when the dog stepped on the gun, according to police. The investigation is ongoing, police said.

GoFundMe Campaign

Smith's family has now set up a GoFundMe campaign to help them cover his funeral and memorial expenses. The page has already amassed close to $10,000 in donations.

Smith was a plumber at Browns Plumbing Services in Wichita, the company's owner Chris Brown, who also set up the fundraiser, said Tuesday. "Joe is absolutely the most unique individual I have had the pleasure of meeting. He was loved by all of us from all walks of life and loved the same," Brown wrote on the GoFundMe page.

"He made us laugh every morning whether it was at him or because of him he always made sure to be a positive light at my company. No matter how bad or stressful my or our day was, Joe always had something to lift our spirits."

Similar Accidents in the Past

This is not the first time a dog owner has been accidentally shot by their pet. Over Thanksgiving weekend in 2022, a 32-year-old new dad and Turkish hunter, Ozgur Gevrekoglu, was shot and killed when he was putting his dog into the back seat of his truck, according to the newspaper Middle East Eye. The dog's paw touched the loaded shotgun, discharging the weapon and killing Gevrekoglu at close range, the newspaper said.

In 2018, a New Mexico man told CBS affiliate KRQE-TV that he was shot by his dog, a 120-pound rottweiler mix named Charlie. The man said he was sitting in his truck, with his rifle in the backseat, when Charlie's paw got caught in the trigger, according to KRQE. The bullet went through the driver's seat and struck the man's back, breaking a few ribs and shattering his collarbone, according to the station.

In 2017, a pheasant hunter in north-central Iowa was accidentally shot and wounded when a dog stepped on the shotgun trigger guard and the gun fired. Ken Lonneman, an Iowa Department of Natural Resources conservation officer, told CBS News at the time that four hunters and two dogs were looking for the game birds when one of the hunters placed a loaded shotgun on the ground.