WANAQUE — A dog that found refuge after abuse and survived a bear attack can now add getting shot and living to bark about it to its list of struggles.

A dog initially thought to be injured by fireworks on Saturday was actually shot by his neighbor, according to Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes.

The dog, identified by owner Brian Coombs as a blue-nose pitbull rescue named Rellik, was taken to the Westwood Regional Veterinary Hospital where an examination determined it had been injured by a small-caliber bullet, Valdes said.

Police had been called about 10:02 to the neighborhood of DuPont and Makemoney avenues on a report of a dog being injured by fireworks.

In a Facebook post, Coombs said Rellik was injured after he took it outside for a walk. He told NorthJersey.com that Rellik was shot in the throat.

Tristan Owens, 22, of the Haskell section, was charged Monday with third-degree animal cruelty.

A GoFundMe page was created by family friend Jess Troeller to assist with Rellik's medical expenses. Rellik was shot through a fence at close range, according to Troeller, who said Rellik's recovery has cost $7,000 and is expected to grow.

Coombs said his is 3-year-old pet was an abused rescue dog.

"Such a lover. Kids, other dogs, people, he is a mush. He survived the bear attack and now a gunshot to the face. This dog is bad ass," Coombs said.

Tristan E. Owens
Tristan E. Owens (Passaic County Prosecutor's Office)

Coombs in a Facebook post on Wednesday called comments that Owens had mistaken Relik for a coyote as "pure bulls***."

"There is no justification for what he did and that is fact," Coombs wrote, adding that that the public should not threaten the suspect or his family.

"I would appreciate if people stop threatening these people. If anyone has a right to be mad it is my family and it is our wish to let the police handle this matter and to let the evidence show what happened," Coombs said. "Justice will be decided in court and not on Facebook."

Coombs on Wednesday morning did not respond to New Jersey 101.5's request for more information.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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