Tanya Meyer knew almost immediately that something wasn’t right.
She let her two dogs, Zoey and Maggie, out of the house and into the surrounding woods in the small town of Rome, Wis., where they live. Maggie came lumbering back within moments last Friday morning. But Zoey, a chocolate 1 1/2-year old Labrador mix, was nowhere to be seen.
“I started calling for her and she wasn’t answering," Meyer told the Los Angeles Times. She was worried because the area around her isolated central Wisconsin house is mostly forested, and regularly used as hunting grounds.
That day and through the weekend, Meyer -- along with her dad and her husband -- searched for Zoey without success.
On Monday, Meyer's husband, Chris, found Zoey on a neighbor’s property. She was lying on her side, lifeless, with an arrow wound in her neck. The dog was 30 feet from a hunter's tree stand, he told Rome police.
Acting Rome Police Chief Sgt. Jason Lauby confirmed to The Times that the dog was found dead with an arrow wound, but could not release information about the location of the wound or whether the dog was discovered on a neighbor's property. The Police Department and the Adams County Sherriff's Department are still investigating, he said.
Meyer believes Zoey was killed with the arrow Friday, then dragged into the neighbor's yard. She said she asked the neighbors, who come to the area on weekends to hunt, whether they had seen Zoey, and they said no. She said she would not identify them until the police investigation was over.
“To take the arrow out of her and to continue to hunt all weekend long, I just don’t have words for it. It sickens me,” Meyer said. “I never thought people in the world were like this.”
Meyer said she had no qualms about hunting. But justice for Zoey, she said, means the hunters who killed her should lose their licenses.
Christina Ackerman, executive director for the Adams County Humane Society -- where the Meyers adopted Zoey last year -- said Zoey's death does not reflect a problem with hunters in general, but only with the individuals who did this. She told The Times that "most people with a heart" would never do anything like this.
Zoey's death has touched off an international response online, with people reaching out from as far away as Iceland and Hong Kong. A post on a Facebook page Meyer and her husband started called Justice for Zoey has been shared more than 125,000 times.
On the page, people have shared photos and memories of their own pets who’ve died, written kind words, and joined the Meyers' quest for justice. Some people even changed their profile pictures to photos of Zoey to increase awareness about what happened to her.
Meyer said she never expected this large a response. The overwhelming support has helped her and her family deal with the loss of her pet, who was very much part of the family.
When Meyer was pregnant with her daughter, now 6 months old, Zoey was always around her, and wanted to be around the baby after she was born, she said. Meyer jokes that Zoey, who liked to cuddle and be around people, rolled around so much to be petted that she even taught the baby how to roll over.
“My daughter just loved her, and they had this special bond,” Meyer said.
Meyer and her family buried Zoey on Monday, with a stick in her grave because she loved to play fetch.