Man blames illegal fireworks at Autzen Stadium for dog's death

      EUGENE, Ore. - When Eugene resident Mark Payne talks about his dog Mya, he lights up.

      "She is probably the most full of life person - dog - I've ever met. She always wants to be with you, she's always on the go," he says.

      Payne describes Mya as being as sweet as she was outgoing, and adds she is a member of the family.

      "She is my fifth daughter."

      Which is why the miniature Australian Shepherd went everywhere with Mark: boating, inner tubing, and even tailgating.

      It was at a tailgate for the Oregon-UCLA game on October 26 when Payne says some illegal fireworks were set off close by.

      "They were just your mortar type you shoot up in the air. They go boom boom boom, explode explode explode," he said.

      Mya, who had spent most of the day on Payne's lap, was about 20 feet away going to the bathroom when the explosions happened.

      That's when, he says, she ran.

      Payne admits Mya was not on a leash, but says she was never the type to take off.

      "She would have been with me, she would not have strayed if these mortars had not gone off," Mark says.

      Friends and family began an immediate search for the dog.

      They canvassed the area, asking passerby if they'd seen her, and even hanging flyers around the tailgate spot.

      Four days later, Mark says a friend spotted a dog's body that looked like Mya on Interstate 5 near the Glenwood exit.

      "I took a towel and I took some gloves with me to bring her home if it was," he says. "As soon as I saw her I just picked her up and hugged her. No towel. No gloves."

      Mark blames the illegal fireworks for scaring his dog into running away, ultimately leading to her death.

      Lt. Doug Mozan with the Eugene Police Department says there are fairly simple rules to follow for legal firework usage in Oregon.

      "If it flies, if it shoots things, or if it explodes, it's not legal," he says.

      But policing illegal firework usage is easier said than done.

      "Unless we see it happening, there's a good chance we're not going to locate where it occurred," says Lt. Mozan.

      Mozan encourages the public to report any illegal firework sightings, to help crack down on their usage.

      Jan Bohman, City of Eugene Communications Director, says the City Council is set to discuss the use of fireworks in a work session on January 27.

      She says councilors chose to discuss the topic after members of the public expressed concern over illegal fireworks.

      But Payne isn't sure more laws will help, adding the type of fireworks that scared Mya are already illegal, and that didn't stop people from setting them off.

      Mark simply hopes that people who may be considering lighting off some big, booming fireworks will think twice about the consequences of their actions.

      Payne adds that what happened to Mya was "tragic, heartbreaking."

      "I just hope you take into consideration other people," says Payne, "and how it affects them negatively."