Family's dog killed by arrow

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 12, 2011

By Nathan Hardin
RICHFIELD — From the arrow’s angle of entry, it was clear that whoever shot Dixie did it from close range, while looking down at her.
The dog’s owner, Melissa Basinger, didn’t realize what happened until she was driving back down her long, dirt driveway Tuesday evening.
The 35-year-old mother of three said she saw Dixie on the right side of the road on a low-cut grass shoulder, about 15 yards from her property line.
Dixie was a family pet and a “therapy dog” to Basinger’s two autistic children.
She said the dog had only been outside about five minutes when she saw her.
It was about 5:30 p.m., and Basinger was busy loading groceries into the house.
It had been a stressful week for the family after doctors said they needed a lung biopsy to be conducted on one of her children, and her husband had recently left the intensive care unit after he fractured his skull in an accident. Her husband, Nick, fell from a moving vehicle on Saturday and was airlifted to Presbyterian Hospital in Charlotte. He has no memory of the incident.
Basinger said she collapsed when she saw the small dog’s body on the roadside.
“My first thought was that he had been hit by a car,” she said.
But when she got closer, she saw the arrow sticking out.
• • •
Dixie and Melissa’s son Keargan were inseparable.
Keargan, 5, is a high-functioning autistic. His older brother, Keegan, has Asperger’s syndrome.
Basinger said the black cocker spaniel mix seemed to be “heaven-sent” and took to her family instantly.
In the fragile world of autism, Dixie provided a sense of security and calmness, she said.
It was the search for a peaceful environment that led the Basingers to their new house on Reeves Island Road near Richfield.
Their house is about three and a half miles from Stokes Ferry Road, most of it dirt-laden, and is close to the Tuckertown Reservoir.
The lack of traffic and noise, she said, helps keep her two autistic children calm.
But since purchasing the house in March, Basinger has had a number of run-ins with hunters coming onto her property.
“They always claim to have permission,“ she said.
• • •
The home is surrounded by 1,400 acres of game land, she said, and about 10 vehicles lined the road at various sections on Saturday, many with hunting equipment visible.
Basinger was aware of the hunting grounds when she purchased the home and doesn’t have a problem with most hunters who visit the game land woods near her home.
But she said she’s worried about the safety of her children after seeing several hunters walking close to the house and some hunters parking in her driveway.
“If that was an accident, then that’s even scarier,” she said. “My children walk down the driveway to check the mailbox.”
Dixie was found about halfway between her house and the mailbox. “No Hunting” signs are posted on both sides of the road from Dixie’s nearby grave.
After calling 911 dispatch, a Rowan County deputy came to the house, but told Basinger that the county’s leash law makes it difficult for law enforcement to do anything.
The fletchings on the end of the arrow had been snapped off when Basinger found Dixie.
A game warden told her that hunters often put their name or initials on the end of an arrow to keep track.
“There is no reason why they needed to hunt here,” she said.
Things are better for the Basingers than they were several days ago.
A neighbor is letting them keep a dog for her children to play with. Basinger’s husband, Nick, is regaining his memory and functional abilities.
But Basinger said she won’t stop asking for the shooter’s identification.
“Hunters aren’t bad people,” she said. “I know that. But somebody out there knows.”