By Carol Cavazos, CBS 11 News

DENTON (CBSDFW.COM) – Did someone intentionally shoot a Denton couple’s dog or was it an accident? Either way, the broken hearted couple hopes someone comes forward with information about the shooter to keep it happening to someone else.

The Buffalo Valley Ranch in Denton is known for its tranquility, a place where buffalo really do roam on vast acres of land.

But on New Year’s Day, sometime between 4 and 4:30 in the afternoon, that peace was disturbed when Bob and Jackie Merritt found their Yorkshire Terrier, named Mercy Me, dead from a massive bullet wound.  “She was our baby,” Jackie Merritt said.

Mercy Me was a wedding gift to the Merrits, who married on the land seven years ago and then built a 13,500 square foot wedding and event center on it. They call it the Buffalo Valley Event Center.

Jackie Merritt remembers the day they named their pet. “Bob has big hands. And, he picked her up and she was so tiny. She just filled his hand a little bit and he just said, ‘Well, mercy me. That’s a little bitty dog.’ Ah, I said. ‘Well, that’s her name now, Mercy Me.'”

When Mercy Me didn’t return from her walk, the Merritts looked for her separately and arrived at one of their fences. “And, there she was,” Jackie Merritt said.

Police think someone shot the little dog with a rifle. “A 22 magnum, up to an AR15 type. They wouldn’t necessarily have to get onto the property,” Denton Police Department’s Ryan Grelle said.

Though Jackie Merritt has forgiven the shooter, she doesn’t think it was an accident. “With a scope you can see.  She’s a dog. She doesn’t run like a rabbit,” Jackie Merritt said.
Whoever fired the weapon faces a charge as serious as animal cruelty or at the very least discharging a firearm within the Denton city limits.

But Jackie Merritt isn’t interested in charges. “That’s not in my heart. My heart is that their heart would be change.A nd if the heart’s changed then we don’t have to worry about that happening to somebody else,” Jackie Merritt said.

Illegally discharging a firearm is a misdemeanor. But it could mean a five hundred dollar fine. Animal cruelty is a felony in Texas. Punishment for that could mean a 10-thousand dollar fine and up to two years in jail.