Things would have been tragically different had Chris Lynch arrived even just a few minutes later.
Lynch, a conservation officer with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, was on patrol in the state's rural north peninsula late last month when something caught his eye. There, on a private off-road trail through the wilderness, he spotted a vehicle parked — and a man with a little dog running at his side.
Something about the scene just didn't feel right, evidently; Lynch decided to stop. And it's a good thing that he did.
As Lynch approached the vehicle, he noticed the man slip a loaded rifle back into its case.
As the officer got closer, he saw a second man a short ways off — who was digging a hole.
Lynch asked the men what they were up to, and was told that they were burying their dog. When he looked inside the hole and found it contained just an empty box, the officer realized they were about to kill and bury the playful pup at his feet.
Since the dog appeared to be healthy, Lynch asked them why. One of the men reportedly told him they were going to shoot the dog because she is old.
The officer proceeded to inform the men that they were on private property, and the owner would likely not consent to what they were about to do, but he didn't stop there. After taking law enforcement action against them for illegally having a loaded rifle in their vehicle, Lynch convinced the men to hand the dog over to him.
Lynch then drove the dog to the nearby Delta Animal Shelter himself.
Staff at the no-kill shelter were shocked by how close the dog, who is named Tunzy, had come to losing her life — especially since they allow people to surrender unwanted pets for no cost.
Credit: Flickr - Roberto Verzo