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Kansas hunter fatally shot by dog in tragic accident: 'He was loved by all of us'

FILE - A woman plays with her dog at sunset, Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, at a park in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
FILE - A woman plays with her dog at sunset, Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, at a park in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
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A man who was tragically killed after a dog accidentally shot him during a hunting trip has been identified as plumber Joseph Smith, who is remembered for being a "kind, funny, smart, and very loving" person that was also always the welcomed "goofball."

Joseph Austin Smith, 30, of Wichita was sitting in the passenger seat of a pickup truck on Saturday when he was shot in the back, The Washington Post reports a statement from the Sumner County Sheriff’s Office saying.

The back seat contained hunting gear and a rifle,” the statement reportedly reads. “A canine belonging to the owner of the pickup stepped on the rifle causing the weapon to discharge. The fired round struck the passenger who died of his injuries on scene."

Smith was reportedly killed instantly. The sheriff's office said in its statement that it considers the shooting an "accident" and that it has closed the case.

Smith was an employee of Browns Plumbing Services in Wichita, and his boss Chris Brown apparently created a GoFundMe page to aid Smith's family with funeral and memorial costs.

Joe is absolutely the most unique individual I have had the pleasure of meeting," Brown said on the GoFundMe page. "He was loved by all of us from all walks of life and loved the same. He made us laugh every morning whether it was at him or because of him he always made sure to be a positive light at my company."
No matter how bad or stressful my or our day was, Joe always had something to lift our spirits. I have been a plumber for a long time and met many many different guys but never have I met another Joe and I am confident there may not be another," Brown added.

So far, the GoFundMe page for the "Joe Smith Memorial Fund" has reached over $11,000.

Brown also shared a statement from one of Smith's coworkers, "Jessica."

Joseph Smith was a truly amazing man. He was kind, funny, smart, and very loving. Every time he walked through the door, he would make someone smile. Either from being a goofball or just his natural presence making everything better. It wasn't hard to love Joe because he always made you feel like you were one of a kind and never left a conversation without letting you know he loved you," Jessica said in her statement.

Smith is not the first person to be fatally shot by a dog during a hunting trip. Many across the United States, and across the world, have been injured or killed by dogs accidentally discharging firearms in the past few years, the Washington Post says.

Given as an example, a man was shot by his dog in 2018 while driving in New Mexico. That man was apparently quick to forgive his pet, telling ABC News that "he didn’t mean to do it."

Also in 2018, a pit bull-Labrador named Balew reportedly accidentally shot his owner in the leg while they were playing inside their Iowa home. In 2015, a dog named "Trigger" accidentally shot his owner in the foot after she left a loaded shotgun on the ground with the safety off.

Recently, a Turkish man who was out hunting over Thanksgiving weekend was reportedly killed after his own dog stepped on a gun, causing it to go off. Ozgur Gevrekoglu was loading equipment into his vehicle when his pooch somehow set off a loaded shotgun, according to the newspaper Middle East Eye.

Gun safety rules from the National Rifle Association insist that gun owners always keep their firearms unloaded when they aren't in use.

ALWAYS Keep The Gun Unloaded Until Ready To Use," the NRA says on its website. "If you do not know how to open the action or inspect the chamber(s), leave the gun alone and get help from someone who does."
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