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.

dogs shot near Kamloops

Two dogs were shot and left to die in the woods near Knouff Lake, north of Kamloops. (Mike Griffith)

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.”

'When we put Ryker to sleep, I cried like a baby.' - Mike Griffith

Barriere RCMP Constable Jesse Wilkins, who is investigating the case, says it doesn't appear the dogs were chasing wildlife or cattle.

"There were no major signs of livestock footprints in the area where these dogs were. And the farmer was a family friend of the person who owned the dogs — and apparently, at this point, it seems that there was no issue with the dogs being on the property."

CBC News tried to reach Griffith's neighbour, but he refused to comment.