A Methuen woman returned home from running errands Thursday afternoon and checked on her dogs in her backyard.
She was surprised to find her dog, Creek, lying on top of her 3-year-old German Shepard, Moose.
Concerned, she moved Creek off Moose.
And then she saw the unthinkable: Moose had been shot and killed.
The woman, who lives on Lowell Boulevard, called Methuen police.
“The homeowner is obviously extremely distraught,” Methuen Police Chief Joseph Solomon said.
Along with State Police, Methuen police are investigating whether Moose was targeted.
“It seems to be intentionally done,” Methuen Police Capt. Kristopher McCarthy told reporters at the scene. “And that’s what we’re going to investigate.”
State police detectives, Methuen police detectives and K9 units searched the area Thursday for clues. Officials are also hoping to find video surveillance from the area. “We’re looking for any evidence that [could] bring the person to justice that did this horrendous crime,” McCarthy said.
Creek’s leg was grazed, but it was unknown if it was a gunshot wound, McCarthy said.
“It could have been from roaming around the yard, or it could have been from laying on Moose,” McCarthy said.
He said the area behind the home is wooded and dense, “not an area someone would be frequently just walking through.”
It wasn’t clear if the shooting occurred on the owner’s property or if Moose was shot elsewhere and then returned to the home.
“It’s awful,” McCarthy said. “It’s an awful crime.”
Travis Andersen of the Globe Staff contributed. Andrew Stanton can be reached at Andrew.Stanton@globe.com