12/06/2013 10:22 EST | Updated 02/05/2014 05:59 EST

Two dogs fatally shot in the woods near Kamloops

An incident described by RCMP as a case of serious animal cruelty has left a B.C. family wondering why someone would shoot their two dogs and leave them to die in the woods near Knouff Lake, north of Kamloops.

Mike Griffith says he knew something was wrong when his Mastiff-cross dogs, Ryker and Phylo, didn't return home on Tuesday. In his search for the animals, Griffith visited a neighbour.

“He said he hadn't seen my dogs, but then throughout the course of the conversation he mentioned that his brother had shot two wolves that morning,” he says.

Griffith went to the spot described by the neighbour, on a nearby rural road. Next to a pile of deer bones, which he says hunters use to bait animals, he found a blood trail. And 80 metres away, he found his dogs: one dead, the other clinging to life.

Griffith rushed the younger dog, Ryker, to the vet, but a bullet had fatally shattered its spine.              

“When we put Ryker to sleep, I cried like a baby,” says Griffith. “I was just overcome with emotion when Ryker's head slumped into my arms there and he stopped breathing.”

A Kamloops RCMP officer investigating the case says he has identified a person of interest in the shooting. CBC News tried to reach Griffith's neighbour, but he refused to comment.