“He was my best friend,” said 15-year-old Hannah Westmoreland, describing her beloved service dog, Journey.
Journey was a four-year-old golden retriever trained to warn Hannah when her blood sugar was low. Hannah has type 1 diabetes, and almost four years ago the people in her hometown of Quinlan, Texas raised $10,000 so that she could afford a service dog.
Journey was a beloved member of the family ever since he joined them, and he warned Hannah about dangerous lows by nudging her hard with his nose. Hannah says Journey ran to her the very first time they met.
But on January 13, 2019, the family let Journey outside so he could have his daily swim in a pond near their rural home. That’s when the dog was shot by an unknown shooter.
Hannah rushed out to him and held his head in her lap. She promised Journey that everything was going to be okay. The family got Journey to a vet clinic, but the vet was not able to save him. The family is at a complete loss as to who would shoot Journey or why.
“He took Hannah’s little hero for no reason,” Hannah’s mother, Tina Westmoreland, said, referring to the shooter. “He took what has saved her life more than once. [Journey] was going to be with her when she went to college to keep her healthy in college.”
The Hunt County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the shooting, and a GoFundMe page and a Facebook fundraising page have been set up to raise a reward to find the shooter, pay for vet bills, and possibly fund another service dog to keep Hannah safe.
The vet did preserve the bullet that took Journey’s life, and it may play a role in finding the shooter. Whether Journey was shot on purpose or on accident is not known.
Rest in peace, Journey. You will be missed.
Watch the full story below
Katie Taylor started writing in 5th grade and hasn't stopped since. Her favorite place to pen a phrase is in front of her fireplace with a cup of tea, but she's been known to write in parking lots on the backs of old receipts if necessary. She and her husband live cozily in the Pacific Northwest enjoying rainy days and Netflix.