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Friday, September 19, 2014

Shooting Dog Championships

I'm still in shock."
"It was just normal ... you show up, you put the coffee and doughnuts on the table, you ride your horse, you come back and complain about the dogs."
Vince Principiato, member, Ontario Bird and Dog Conservation Association

It was a routine, much anticipated annual event for competitive hunting dog aficionados. A get-together of people whose common interests and communal feelings about the sport they took seriously brought them to southern Ontario's Hullett Provincial Wildlife area nearby Clinton, Ontario. The Amateur Shooting Dog Championship had taken place, and people involved radiated out of the area, while some, like Donato Frigo and his wife Eva Willer remained a little longer.

Donato Frigo, 70, was fatally shot on Sept. 13, as he and a female companion were riding horses near a wildlife conservation area in the municipality of Central Huron in southwestern Ontario.
Handout   Donato Frigo, 70, was fatally shot on Sept. 13, as he and a female companion were riding horses near a wildlife conservation area in the municipality of Central Huron in southwestern Ontario.

The couple had taken one of their English pointers through a last training run, thinking to take advantage of a goose-hunt taking place at the same time as their event for which a large number of pheasants had been released. The husband and wife rode the trail on horseback, with one of their English pointers scouring the course for one of the gamebirds. Pointers assume a "pointing stance" when they locate a prey, to alert their handler to the presence of game.

This requires a great deal of trained discipline; the dog sensing the presence of game restrains itself from racing after it as most ordinary dogs would instinctively react, and instead stands at attention in the rigid, tell-tale sport-approved manner waiting for its handler to take action. Dogs' skills at these competitive field trials are judged by the canine's posture and discipline throughout the process reflecting in no small part the skill of its trainer.

Their additional jaunt completed, the couple -- Donato Frigo and wife Eva Willer -- was in the process of returning to the camp set up for the Ontario Bird and Dog Conservation trials. Goose-hunters, with the early onset of the goose-hunting season, were in plentiful presence in the area. At roughly5 p.m. when the couple was returning with their dog, someone stepped out of the woods, pointed a shotgun and fired off three blasts -- directly at the couple.

Mr. Frigo, 70, an executive at Hady Construction Associates out of the Toronto area, long recognized as a valued member of the Ontario competitive hunting dog community, was shot dead. Ms. Willer was wounded, her horse was also injured and she rode back to the camp with her husband's horse behind her. She had shot wounds on her face, and she was in shock. Until she appeared at the camp no one had any idea that something dreadful had occurred.

With the presence of so many hunters in the area, using their shotguns, there was nothing to alert anyone that something different was happening. "There's been a lot of shooting going on; early morning, late evening", explained Jeff Haggis, chair of the weekend's competitions. When police responded to the call, investigators hesitated to call the shooting a homicide. Ontario Provincial Police forensic teams secured the area and the investigation proceeded.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dave Chidley   OPP continue to block off access to the scene at a conservation area near Clinton, Ont., Monday Sept. 15, 2014 of the Saturday evening shooting of Donato Frigo of Caledon East.

Now, police have issued a Canada-wide warrant in the fatal shooting on September 13, for a man known to Mr. Frigo of Caledon, Ontario and his wife. According to the OPP, Boris Panovski of Toronto, 70 years of age, is their suspect in the murder of Mr. Frigo. Considered armed and dangerous, a description has been issued to alert the public and ask for assistance in finding the man. Of the incident itself, police have chosen to release few details.

"An altercation occurred"
stated a tight-lipped Det.Supt. Dave Truax, informing the inquisitive precisely what they already knew. No details emerged on the relationship between the two 70-year-old men, nor exactly what had taken place in those tense few moments when one man took the life of another.

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