74-year-old was hunting jackrabbits in New Mexico — when his dog shot him in the back

Sonny Gilligan, 74, is expected to recover after his dog Charlie shot him in the back.
Sonny Gilligan, 74, is expected to recover after his dog Charlie shot him in the back. Courtesy

Could you stay mad at Charlie?

Sonny Gilligan, 74, sure can’t. Not even after Gilligan’s loyal hunting dog shot him in the back last week on a jackrabbit hunting excursion near Las Cruces, New Mexico, according to the Las Cruces Sun-News.

As Gilligan sat in the front seat of his pickup truck, in park, with two of his three dogs, Charlie’s paw got tangled in the trigger of one of Gilligan’s shotguns in the back, according to KRQE.

“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 said, according to the Sun-News. “It was a freak accident but it’s true, that’s what happened.”

He suffered a few broken ribs and a broken collarbone but is expected to recover, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported. Gilligan’s son Mark told the newspaper his father is “doing a lot better,” though just a day ago he was in critical condition at University Medical Center in El Paso.

While Dona Ana County sheriff’s deputies stopped Sonny’s bleeding, his thoughts almost immediately turned to his dogs, according to KRQE. All three — Scooter, Cowboy and Charlie — were taken to a county animal services facility while he was being taken to the hospital, but Sonny wanted them out of “doggy jail” as soon as possible.

So, “I had to go bust them out of jail,” Mark Gilligan, 45, told the New Mexican.

Sonny, while he was still in critical condition, told KRQE that he forgave Charlie, a Lab-Rottweiler mix, for the weapons malfunction.

As it turns out, the “dog shoots man” phenomenon may not be as rare as you think. Last year, a hunting dog shot a hunter walking ahead of him in Iowa when he stepped on the trigger of a 12-gauge shotgun lying on the ground, according to The Kansas City Star.