Lutz, Florida -- Tampa firefighter Tom Miller stands in the dark this night, spending quiet time with his horses.
They are his solace now after his dog, Dacota, died following a brutal injury.
The 3-year-old Australian Shepard was gored by a wild boar in Tom's back yard Wednesday, and required emergency surgery. Despite the best care, Dacota succumbed to infection.
Tom, his wife, and his two boys were devastated.
"It was such a shock because he seemed to be doing so well, but then he developed an infection and couldn't breathe on his own, so we made the decision to put him down so he wouldn't have to suffer," Miller said.
Tom lives on five acres in Lutz and says urban development has pushed wild animals closer to his property.
"It's that time of year. Food sources become scarce and wild animals come in here looking for food. It's not their fault; it's nature."
Because of this, pets can be especially vulnerable when left unsupervised. Even Miller's horses, as big as they are, could be injured or even hunted while alone.
Experts suggest fences to keep animals out, and that you never leave them unattended.
Despite the pain of losing Dacota, Tom is grateful for all the donations that came in from the people of Tampa Bay who saw the story and sent money to help pay for the $10,000 surgery.
"I cant thank enough the people of Blue Pearl, Frankie's Friends, and the people of Tampa Bay who donated money to help us out," said Miller. "At least it gave Dacota a chance at survival, and despite the outcome, we are very grateful. Thank you."
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