A former college football star has had his leg amputated after his was shot by his dog while on a hunting trip in Mississippi last month.
Matt Branch, an offensive lineman for Louisiana State University from 2008-2011, took a trip with several friends late in December, but the excursion took a sudden, devastating turn.
The Mississippi Clarion Ledger reports a labrador retriever who had accompanied the group on the trip hopped into the bed of a Polaris Ranger utility vehicle and stepped on the safety of Branch's shotgun, firing at him from roughly four feet away.
The shot hit Branch on his left thigh and he was quickly transported to a nearby road where paramedics could treat him before he was rushed to hospital in Vicksburg, a city in Mississippi.
He was later transported to the University of Mississippi Medical Center where his leg was amputated. He remains in a critical condition.
The New York Post reported Branch was expected to survive, but had a number of complex surgeries ahead of him.
Branch's friend, Micah Heckford, was with Branch on the trip and told the Mississippi Clarion Ledger the incident raised reasons to rethink gun safety.
"All of us have hunted for 20 years or more and none of us thought about that happening," Heckford said. "We were just moving 200 yards to set up and hunt. The opportunities for an accident are there and we just don't realise it. We think we're being safe, but are we? If there's a shell in that gun, anything can happen."