A family's dog tragically lost its life while out in the woods with its owner ... because we're told a hunter accidentally mistook it for a coyote and shot it.
Jennifer Heller, owner of 8-year-old malamute Hunter, shared the loss of her pup on Facebook ... saying her husband Chris put reflective collars and harnesses on their dogs and took them to a "very commonly used walking path by our house" in Berks County, PA.
While there, she says Chris unleashed Hunter but kept him close -- eventually coming across a group of hunters. After finding out there was an extension on hunting season, she says Chris went to go leash up their dog ... but claims it was shot before he could get to him.
Jennifer says her husband yelled for help and they loaded Hunter in a truck and drove like crazy to get him to a vet, but he died before they could even get to a highway. She's now asking authorities to revoke the shooter's hunting privileges.
Northern Berks Regional Police Chief James Keiser tells TMZ ... the dog wasn't under the control of the owner and was shot by hunters who thought it was a coyote -- adding it should've been on a leash. He says there were no arrests and no charges were filed.
A rep for the Game Commission tells us the hunters were in full compliance with PA hunting laws -- saying it seems the dog was simply shot by mistake.
Jennifer tells us she met with the Game Commissioner and they spoke about ways to prevent tragedies like this in the future. The family has started a GoFundMe to raise money to hire an attorney, so they can file a lawsuit against the parties they feel has swept the incident under the rug.