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Santa Barbara Man Mourns Shooting Death of Dog by Hunters

Ian Malloch shares his story about a hike on the Santa Cruz Trail as a cautionary tale for others who venture into the area with pets or children

Billy, a rescue-mutt terrier who belonged to Ian Malloch, was shot and killed by a hunter earlier this month on a trail in the Los Padres National Forest. Authorities say the killing violated no laws, but Malloch contends the hunter’s actions “weren’t justified.”
Billy, a rescue-mutt terrier who belonged to Ian Malloch, was shot and killed by a hunter earlier this month on a trail in the Los Padres National Forest. Authorities say the killing violated no laws, but Malloch contends the hunter’s actions “weren’t justified.”  (Ian Malloch photo)

By Gina Potthoff, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @ginapotthoff |

Most days, Billy — a sweet, rescued mutt — would lie peacefully and protectively on the floor beside the 3-month-old son of his Santa Barbara owner.

That part of the daily routine has become no more, since the medium-sized, 45-pound dog was shot and killed earlier this month by hunters who told authorities they mistook the unleashed terrier for a wild dog on the Santa Cruz Trail in Los Padres National Forest.

Billy’s owner, 32-year-old Ian Malloch, shared his story as a cautionary tale for others who use the trail so they’re not also stunned and crushed by such a tragic outcome.

“It’s one of the saddest things I’ve ever gone through,” Malloch said. “I was definitely emotional. I loved that dog. Everybody loved him. I think most people would see it as a shock.”

The incident unfolded on the morning of Jan. 15. Malloch jogged up a trail while his two dogs — Billy and Macaroni, a 65-pound German wire-haired pointer — ran a short distance ahead of him.

When the dogs went out of view around a bend near the Nineteen Oaks area, Malloch heard barking, followed by a male voice yelling “Yo!” and then a gunshot.

Malloch turned the corner and found that Billy had been shot in the head with a rifle by a hunter who believed he had “no other choice” because potential “wild dogs” were charging him, according to a report filed with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.

The two young hunters from the Los Angeles area, both weighing more than 200 pounds each, were out for pig season with legal gun permits and hunting licenses, the report said.

Billy, a 45-pound mixed terrier was shot and killed in Los Padres National Forest earlier this month by hunters who told authorities they mistook the unleashed terrier for a wild dog. No charges were filed. (Ian Malloch photo)
Billy was shot and killed in the Los Padres National Forest earlier this month by hunters who told authorities they mistook the unleashed terrier for a wild dog. No charges were filed. (Ian Malloch photo)

Authorities declined to press charges because their actions were legal, said Andrew Madsen, a U.S. Forest Service spokesman.

“It’s just so tragic and unfortunate,” said Madsen, a fellow dog owner and self-proclaimed canine lover. “There wasn’t any negligence. Unfortunately, sometimes these things happen.

“Dogs should be on a leash. It’s an opportunity to share that safety message.”

Malloch told Noozhawk that he knows the shooting was legal, but he doesn’t understand why the hunters could find no other way to deal with a dog that clearly was wearing a collar.

“I just think their actions weren’t justified,” he said. “They said it was a large dog, and they attacked these guys. You kind of need to see what the dog looked like. It’s just sad.”

After Malloch carried his bleeding, dying dog the couple of miles down the trail, animal control arrived to take the small body to the Santa Barbara County Humane Society to be cremated.

Now, the ashes of Billy, who was part of Malloch’s family of three since he was rescued in 2007, are buried among the hills he used to love running through.

“There’s nothing we can do to bring him back,” said Malloch, who estimated Billy was 7 or 8 years old. “People need to know that people are back there with guns, just to be careful when you’re back there with your kids or dogs. Be aware that people are allowed to hunt back there year-round. It is sad that it ended the way it did.

“He was always the first one in my bed to cuddle with me,” Malloch continued, clearly upset. “We used to joke that he was a Mongolian mountain terrier because he loved running around the mountains. He was a friendly dog.”

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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» on 01.26.13 @ 01:58 AM

RIP Billy.

» on 01.26.13 @ 02:32 AM

I don’t understand why Madsen, the Forest Service employee, said that the dog should be onleash since the Los Padres NF is off leash territory and, I believe, there’s a sign to that effect at the trailhead. Not negligent to shoot to kill a small-medium-sized dog? I disagree.

Terribly, terribly sad; sympathies to Mr. Malloch. And outrageous that one can’t walk/hike in safety on the trails; I’d be afraid of a mountain lion attacking my dog - now the realistic fear has to be of some timid type with a loaded gun.

The only thing that should be done to help prevent future issues is to have signage at the trailheads informing of the dates of hunting season, warning that hunters are there——and, especially!, to require unloaded guns while traversing trails.

» on 01.26.13 @ 03:00 AM

Outrageous. Simply outrageous.

» on 01.26.13 @ 07:37 AM

I’ve hunted wild boar before and have heard many stories from others as well. If you can be frightened by a small/medium sized dog, you probably shouldnt be hunting pig. Many of the most experienced pig hunters I have known use dogs of their own and probably would not blast a loose dog.
Too bad Malloch had to lose his cool companion due to some trigger happy buckwheat.

» on 01.26.13 @ 07:41 AM

That dog looks like a small pig, i would have shot it as well. Perfect hog sized dinner. All though Los Padres National Forest is a off leash area, its up to the owner to have some common sense and to know when hunting season are open in that part of the Forest. Its is the owners own fault that the dog got shot. There were hundreds of things the owner could have done to prevent the dogs death, such as walk it some place else, day glo leash, day glo vest, short leash, take it to the beach. take it to the lake, take it to a non hunting area.

» on 01.26.13 @ 10:33 AM

These idiots who shot that mans dog should be prosacuted for neglagent dicharge of a fire arm. A wild dog? give me a break! these idiots just wanted to shoot somthing and the poor dog was avalible. No one could look at a dog like that and honistly believe they where in danger. As for keeping dogs on the leash, come on they need a plase to run and be free just like any other animal or human for that matter. no dog should subjected to a life in total captivity.

» on 01.26.13 @ 12:04 PM

I have dogs, too, and take them on hikes and trail runs. They are trained to stay close to me, and I have trained them not to bark at people on the trail, and don’t tolerate any anti-social behavior from them. It takes some work. They are both rescues and had a lot to learn, and neither was brought on the trail until I had control over his behavior, especially together. Two dogs will act more assertively than one will alone.

Unfortunately, there are people who feel they can bring unruly and untrained dogs on the trail. Dogs that bark at other people, dogs that jump on other people’s dogs, dogs that don’t obey their master’s commands.

Having said that, I have never seen wild dogs on the trail, or in the Los Padres National Forest. Who knows, maybe in LA there are wandering packs of wild wire-hair terriers mauling and devouring 200-lb douchebags. At least in a movie script.

» on 01.26.13 @ 12:22 PM

>>>a hunter who believed he had “no other choice”

These gun lovers are scared. They love nothing better than their guns and killing. Sick.

» on 01.26.13 @ 12:39 PM


Is this news to anyone but me?  Does this sound, well, DUMB?

When was the last time there were reports of “Wild dogs” around here, anyway?  Before Columbus, or before the advent of archaeological Clovis Culture in North America?  I keep forgetting.

I do not know these guys at all, but they sound like extremely negligent hunters.  In fact, I would not be surprised if the notion of a “wild dog” were a lie made up on the spot to cover a bout of gross negligence.  Ask any police officer you know if that sounds like a pretty lame alibi.  It sure does to me.

I have no problem with hunting [hunters take dogs with them, duh…], but why am I suddenly thinking twice of taking my grandson hiking during hunting season?

» on 01.26.13 @ 12:55 PM

Awful.  Just awful.

» on 01.26.13 @ 01:05 PM

Purity is difficult to find these days. This article is the real thing, pure drivel! It could have been a compassionate human interest story, but it came out as incoherent dog-worship.

» on 01.26.13 @ 01:21 PM

Pigs hunting pigs.

» on 01.26.13 @ 01:26 PM

So it’s ok for people to walk around shooting animals on popular hiking trails? How does that make any sense?
The leash comments are off the mark. That area is ok for dogs to be off leash. It’s definitely NOT the owner’s fault.
The shooters bear responsibility; they clearly were unprepared for their environment and shouldn’t have been hunting in an area where people go hiking and jogging with their animals.
They had very little chance of bagging a boar in those mountains, anyway, and were probably getting bored and trigger happy. The Forest Service should rethink its policy of allowing hunting permits for this area.
I’m very sorry for Mr Malloch.

» on 01.26.13 @ 04:06 PM

When I hunt in the back country my gun is always unloaded and usually strapped behind my back (inaccessible in a hurry) when I am on a trail or a road. I only hunt where I know the presence of other people is very unlikely (off trail and a long way so). I’m not sure what these guys were thinking or even doing with their guns ready to fire. It’s tragic and pretty stupid that this happened.

People should know that pig hunting is open all season, though. Generally, other hunting seasons are in the fall and early winter (quail and rabbit closing tomorrow) and dear season is open in August. That said, I don’t think there is need for folks to feel a lot of fear about hunters. These guys are the exception in my opinion.

» on 01.26.13 @ 06:14 PM

This is so tragic and my heart goes out to the owner and his family. I hope that he will adopt another lovely dog when the time is right.I have always found this to be healing no matter the circumstances.

» on 01.26.13 @ 07:19 PM

So far not one local media outlet has even ATTEMPTED to contact the hunters for their side of the story.

» on 01.26.13 @ 09:34 PM

Their side of the story? They told it: the dogs barked at them and they shot. The wild dog excuse is total BS. I guess we’re lucky they didn’t get in an argument with another human being, or BAM!

This is the kind of mindlessness that has always found its way into the woods, usually from LA. Whether it’s a group of older novice hikers heading up to Cathedral Peak without enough water or food, or basic physical ability, or it’s some gun-happy jackasses pretending to hunt pigs, the story is always the same. They refuse to learn the basics and cannot be trusted to use good judgment.

These two were lucky the dog didn’t belong to another armed pretend pig hunter (from LA) - although they might have culled the idiot demographic somewhat.

» on 01.26.13 @ 10:03 PM

It absolutely is good journalism to interview the shooter.  Dunno if this was offered, or if so, if the request was granted.  But it would be good journalism to STATE the results of such an attempt.

» on 01.26.13 @ 11:16 PM

Is anyone else bothered by the fact that there evidently are no consequences for this violent, irresponsible action? 

What a fine message the Forest Service is sending.  Go into the forest, destroy someone’s beloved pet and…nothing.  The shooter would have gotten into much more trouble if he had damaged a motorcycle or a backpack. 

Not only did they not charge him, they are protecting him by not releasing his name.  It is depressing when the bad guys get away with it with help from the “authorities”.

» on 01.27.13 @ 12:09 AM

>.“Their side of the story? They told it: the dogs barked at them and they shot.”<<

Are you seriously this dense, or are you just messing with me?

» on 01.27.13 @ 12:49 AM

I’d like to hear the hunters’ side of the story too. It seems to be missing from all of the media accounts. The dog owner didn’t even actually see what happened.

» on 01.27.13 @ 02:05 AM

My heart goes out to the Mallach family.  But they should not assume that the shooting was legal or was not negligent.  What the Forest Service thinks is not the end of the story.  There is certainly probable cause, from the facts set forth, to sue the shooter for gross or simple negligence.  The family should contact a local attorney.  A lawsuit will not being back Billy, but it cam compensate the family for its loss, and may deter idiot hunters who shoot at the first thing that moves - including a small dog with a collar!!!

» on 01.27.13 @ 02:16 PM

dog owners think their dogs are humane, they are dogs. Letting your dog run loose and do whatever it wants to, chase other animals people WHATEVER is so much fun for the dog, the dog has no rules. the humane is supposed to wait and see if the dog bites them or not or if the owner has control. most of the time the owner thinks they control the dog, but they do not . I have been attacked by a pit bull running off leash.  Especially when in a forest….wild…..situation a dog will be aggressive to strangers…and the dog owners think their dog is just being a dog….tax the hell out of all the dog owners who turn our public beaches into a toilet. The path area at Hendrys next to the restaurant smells like urine, always.

» on 01.27.13 @ 06:55 PM


» on 01.27.13 @ 07:03 PM


» on 01.27.13 @ 09:20 PM

I love dogs. But i am even more glad that it was just a dog, and not some school full of kids.

» on 01.28.13 @ 12:51 PM

Which part of “legal” don’t you bleeding hearts understand?  All of you calling for the hunters’ heads might want to try pulling your own out of your collective behinds.  If you have no control over your dog, leashed or not, and there’s someone with a gun and the possibility that it will be used, expect the dire consequences.

And until we hear from the hunters, and determine the real story from between the two sides, everything is conjecture.  Malloch never saw what happened.  And we all (should) know animals are exactly that, and past history and behavior is no guarantee they won’t do something unexpected (remember this:  The rush to judgement absolutely sickens me.

» on 01.28.13 @ 06:07 PM

Every year dogs bite over a million people, 800,000 of which require medical attention often involving reconstructive surgery, the chance of serious infection, and financial setbacks from the medical costs. Dogs bite children most often. The fact that Ian had no control over his animals is the relevant fact. Since this article throws in the ‘children’ card, may I add that Ian should consider what would he have done if it had been kids and not hunters around that corner, or more to the point what would his not-controlled dogs have done. Would we be hearing about how Ian was irresponsible and negligent? Or would the kids, like the hunters, get the blame.

» on 01.28.13 @ 06:47 PM

sure its ok for dogs to be off leash but at what consequence? This dog lost its life over it. All you people bitching about leashes on or off, all know there are dangers that come with it. Ok so you run your dog off leash, congratulations, you are now 1:100 of having your beloved pet lost, shot, run over, fall off a cliff or eaten by large bird. Not saying that having your beloved dog will not have any of these happen while on a leash, but YOU have a BETTER chance of controlling the outcome.

» on 01.28.13 @ 09:46 PM

There are some just plain weird comments on this site. I’m a law-abiding gun owner, and dog owner. If that dog came up and barked at me, with his clearly-visible collar, running booties (and perhaps sun hat?) on, I’d have laughed, held out my hand to show him I’m no harm and we’d be buddies. The last thing I’d think to do is shoot someone’s pet.

And, like a few others have mentioned, why were those jackholes carrying loaded weapons on the trail?

Anyone so paranoid and fearful they are quoting dog-bite statistics need to turn off Fox News at once, and go interact with other humans (without your gun).

» on 01.28.13 @ 10:15 PM

I’m call baloney on the last couple of commenters who support the blasting of a small , unleashed pooch by Buckwheat and his buddy. Anyone who has ever hunted wild pig knows better than to be intimidated by a little dog. Besides ,many avid pig hunters actually use their own loose dogs to track and pin wild boars and wouldnt blast an offleash pooch.
  This is total bull.

» on 01.29.13 @ 12:07 AM

Wasn’t there another dog with Billy? Two dogs. Not one little dog two dogs. Two not=controlled dogs. Sure, the hunters were bozos. But no matter how much anyone blames them it doesn’t change the fact that the dogs were not in Ians control. Would I be in trouble or blamed if I let my kids play in a busy street and they got ran over? The car failed to swerve? CMON! Take some effin responsibility Ian. Don’t play the victim with the help of this publication. You screwed up and the dog is dead, with some help from bozos but that doesn’t change it for you.

I think Romneys comments about the 47% were a little too low. It’s more like 85% going by the comments on this thread. And no I don’t watch fox news and I didn’t vote for Romney. I’m a liberal who happens to believe in PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY!

Sorry about your dog guy. I sure as hell hope you train the one you have left.

» on 01.29.13 @ 03:16 AM

A couple of these last comments are so weird, I would almost think they were trolling.  So it is all the owner’s fault because he was legally running with his off-leash dogs, a hunter saw a barking dog and shot and killed it?  That is absurd.  Talk about blaming the victim!  Yes, dogs do bite but it is stated that this dog did not bite, was medium sized, fluffy, comically cute, wearing a bright orange collar.  What kind of idiot blows away someone’s pet because it barks?  Irresponsible, trigger-happy and negligent.

» on 01.29.13 @ 04:14 AM

This last comment is exactly what I was talking about. The failure to take responsibility. Blame assigns this responsibility to someone else, making them the perpetrator and the blamer the victim. See Karpman drama triangle for more info on the tendency to shift blame elsewhere. Blame is the AVOIDANCE of taking responsibility for ones part. Almost everyone on this thread has hysterically blamed the (not interviewed for the story) hunters. Even Ian himself admits some responsibility, in the story, then shifts back to blame mode.

It’s not about the hunters. It’s about will this guy accept responsibility for his and his dogs behavior. There really is no one to blame which is why no arrest was made. But the hunters must take responsibility for discharging their firearms and Ian must take responsibility for NOT TRAINING HIS DOGS!

Previous posters blow off the dog stats, well TELL THAT TO THOSE VICTIMS! Go ahead tell all of them. Some of those people were friends of mine and are screwed for life. Know what the dog owners said? Go on guess wise guy. That’s right, Fido was just a cute little, gentle dog that would never harm a soul, until he did. 

Grow up stop playing the victim card and take some personal responsibility. And as a dog owner, like any parent it’s a job that entails a lot more than buying little doggie treats and posting cute little pics. TRAIN THE DOG. It’s happier, healthier and then maybe situations like this can be avoided. If it’s too much trouble, and it is a lot of work, then don’t bother getting an animal unless it’s a stuffed one. Then you can play pretend dog owner all day. If a horse were around that corner, what then? Some kids? A bear? Ah forget it. Good luck with the blame and shame act.

» on 01.29.13 @ 03:32 PM

Thank you Voice of Reason.

» on 01.29.13 @ 06:10 PM

How do we know the dog didn’t attack the hunter?  All we have to go on is the dog owner’s word, and he didn’t even see what happened.  Did this dog have any history with animal control?

A real journalist would try to interview the hunters and investigate questions like that.

» on 01.29.13 @ 06:12 PM

“mikey” seems to be making beyond-the-realm-of-reality statements hostile to the point of seeming to be planted, to show the absurdity of trying to equivocate the extremely irrational action of shooting an obvious pet in the head

» on 01.30.13 @ 02:12 PM

I typically take the hunter’s side in these cases. However these jerks were from LA and as an avid backcountry hiker/hunter I have grown to dislike the LA crowd in our back yard. They seem to have little respect for the trails and exhibit less than adequate responsibility. I have also had some fairly tense confrontations with the out of town crowd. “LA go home!” is the usual response. But Krakatoa is probably right; we should hear the other side of the story.

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