Yesterday, we went back and took photos and videos of the location where this occurred. It was SO painful to see all the blood splatter where she was shot. Due to the snow, we were able to very clearly see where the hunters hiked 0.5 mi down the trail from the road/trailhead, went off the trail about 50 feet and stood/waited under a tree where there was no snow. We measured that R was shot approx. 90 feet from where their footprints stopped (close range in my opinion and IMPOSSIBLE not to recognize a large dog with an orange collar and tags) and they were shooting down the hill. J was about 150 feet below, hiking up from the lower trail, which cannot be seen from the upper trail as there are two small ridge plateaus before it drops down to the lower trail along the beaver ponds. He could have been in the line of fire if he had topped the ridge.
In response to some of the emails I have received, I also want to clarify that in the part of the national forest where we hike, it is governed by the DOW, not local city or county laws. Dogs ARE allowed off leash there, so we were not breaking any rules when we hiked there with our dogs off lead (and if we were, I still think it should not be ok to shoot a dog - what if it were someone's lost pet?). The forest service leash law applies to forest service campgrounds, state parks, national parks, national monuments and designated wildlife areas, or trails specifically marked as leash areas. Also, we are not currently in a designated hunting season, but apparently shooting coyotes can be done at any time - there is not a "season". I've had emails that if our dogs had been leashed, it wouldn't have happened. That is probably true. Unfortunately, we enjoy watching our dogs run, play and sniff while we hike with them loose, but under supervision, and we were doing so legally. I also want to express that while I may not like hunting/shooting, I understand that the national forest is there for all of us to enjoy, and I am not trying to stir up any controversy about whether or not hunting/shooting should be allowed. I am only saying that if someone shoots something, he/she needs to be 100% accurately positively certain that their target is what they think it is - species, gender and that shooting down a hill on which you cannot see the bottom of is not safe.