MILTON, Fla. (WKRG) — Outrage continues to grow in Santa Rosa County after a donkey was shot and killed Tuesday afternoon. The donkey was on the loose in Milton near Deaton Bridge Road at about noon.

An independent livestock contractor worked with the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office (SRCSO) for about two hours to wrangle it before deciding it was best to shoot and kill the donkey. 

The Sheriff’s Office says it did not authorize the contractor to kill the donkey, and now a major crimes unit criminal investigation is underway.

“We consider it a major crime. It’s very serious in nature. We only get one shot at an investigation, so we put our best investigators on it,” said Sgt. Rich Aloy, public information officer with the SRCSO. “We’re very troubled by the outcome. We understand our community is very animal oriented and so are we. It’s a very horrible incident, and we’re investigating it to the fullest.”

Emmily Girardot, who works in the area, notified law enforcement Tuesday about the donkey. Girardot didn’t expect the animal to be killed — let alone witness it herself.

“What happened on Tuesday is something that I cannot get out of my head. It was a horrifying, tragic event to watch,” she said. “(The donkey) was nowhere near the road. It was not showing any aggression.” 

Girardot owns a horse and said she tried to help the contractor capture the donkey. She also offered to let him use her halter as the donkey ate feed from the contractor’s hands.

“He refused. At that point, he told me I did not want to see what he was about to do, and I needed to leave the property,” she said. “I said no because not only was I the only person there, but I had a feeling something was going to go wrong.”

The livestock contractor shot the donkey twice, killing it, Girardot said. The contractor has not been identified by law enforcement.

“He hit the donkey in the shoulder, which caused the donkey immense pain,” Girardot said. “From there, he shot it a second time, and that’s when the donkey went down.” 

Girardot said Thursday she is one of many outraged over the incident, and more needs to be done to prevent something like it from happening again.

“It was handled improperly. There should have been multiple people out there. There should have been more than just one person that was sent out to help contain the animal,” she said. “The animal was not posing a danger to others. It was in a place where it was safe. It was calm. It just wanted to be left alone.” 

The SRCSO says it plans to release more information once it’s investigation is complete.