QUINLAN, Texas - A diabetic alert dog trained to help prevent a 15-year-old girl from going into diabetic shock was apparently killed for no reason.
Police say someone shot and killed the service dog on Sunday at the family's property in Quinlan. The Hunt County Sheriff's Office is investigating.
Hannah Westmoreland was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 8 years old. Through all the insulin testing and pokes and prods, she and her mother, Tina Westmoreland, coined the term "find joy in the journey." At age 12, she met Journey, the service dog.
"It was God ordained," Tina said. "God's hand was in it from the beginning."
The Westmoreland family's community in Quinlan spent more than a year raising money so the single mom could buy Journey for more than $10,000.
Hannah and Journey were instantly inseparable. Journey slept with her, went to church camp with her and even went to school with her. Journey would nudge her and alert her if her insulin levels got too high. Hannah says her best friend saved her life more than once.
"Having a diabetic is like an infant. A 15-year-old infant," Tina said. "You're checking a couple times a night. You're making sure you're adjusting. You're making sure they're eating before bed. Journey just kind of helped with a peace of mind."
On Sunday around 9:30 a.m., the family was making pancakes and let Journey out back when. Then about 20 minutes later, Tina opened the front door and saw Journey lying out front. Tina says she called for him, but he didn't move. The whole family went running.
"My grandpa went to pick him up, and there was blood," Hannah said. "So he put his hand, and we figured out there was a gunshot."
Journey was rushed to an animal emergency room, but he didn't make it.
"We're just heartbroken," Tina said.
The Hunt County Sheriff's Office says the department is investigating. The Westmorelands say they don't have any idea who'd do this or why, but they want the shooter to know what they took from this family.
"There's no good reason," Tina said. "None."
The family does have a fence in the back, but they say the gate was open for some reason. They also say they heard four-wheelers nearby, but they did not hear any shots.
The Westmorelands say Journey never barked and always obeyed and possibly would've followed commands from a stranger.