What happened to Margo?

December 27, 2001

What happened to Margo?



Christopher L. Harmon's 4-year-old dog Pepper doesn't get around as well as he used to.

It wasn't illness or old age that slowed the collie down but a bullet shot through his neck Dec. 10 by an unknown assailant.

Pepper and Harmon's other dogs, Jasmine, a 3-year-old female collie, and Margo, a 6-month-old female collie/shepherd mix, dug a hole under the family's fenced yard in a development off Sharpsburg Pike and the three spent the morning of Dec. 10 roaming through nearby fields.

Harmon said he remembers hearing two shots fired in the distance that day but didn't think much of it at the time.


"People are always target shooting or shooting at small game," said his wife, Loretta. Pepper was shot a day after the end of hunting season.

Around 2 p.m., Pepper limped home, bleeding from the neck with Jasmine, who was uninjured. Thirty-pound Margo was still missing.

The family's veterinarian determined that Pepper was shot in the neck at close range with a high-powered rifle.

"Only a cruel person would do something like this," said Loretta.

The family searched for Margo but as of Sunday, she hadn't been found. Harmon said he believes Margo was shot, killed and dumped somewhere and he's angry.

He could justify the shootings if his pets were vicious or rabid but all three are loving, friendly animals, he said.

An accident is forgivable, he said, but "if they did it deliberately, then there's something wrong with them."

Maryland State Police are investigating the crime and no arrests have been made. Police said Margo is presumed to also have been shot.

The dogs were most likely running in the wooded areas south of Tilghmanton between Sharpsburg Pike and Fairplay Road, state police said.

Like many dogs in the area, Harmon's pets love to roam and occasionally get loose despite his best efforts.

Standing in his large back yard Sunday, Harmon gestured to the fence that he said he has repeatedly reinforced and piled rocks, stakes and logs against to prevent his dogs from digging their way out.

Hearing the call of the wild, the animals are relentless in finding ways to squirm their way to freedom, he said.

The high-energy dogs can't be kept inside all day so "it's a no-win situation," he said.

Harmon said his only other option is to install an electric fence, which, along with the $600 for Pepper's veterinarian bills, are expenses that will affect his family's Christmas.

"It's taking food from my children's mouths," he said of the assailant's actions. The family had some financial help from a Basset Rescue group in Williamsport but is anticipating continued bills for Pepper's followup medical care, said Harmon.

Pepper is slowly recovering from his injuries but it is unclear whether he will ever be 100 percent, said Loretta. He returned home Wednesday evening, she said.

Once outgoing and lively, Pepper now cringes and shakes when she hears loud noises. Jasmine, although uninjured in the incident, did not come out of it unscathed, said Loretta.

While Pepper was away under medical care and with Margo missing, Jasmine was distraught and lonely, she said. She refused to eat and wouldn't go outside.

"She just moped around," said Harmon.

With so many days having gone by, the family said they don't expect to find Margo's body but would like to find out what happened to her.

"Somebody must have seen something," said Harmon.

Anyone with information about the shootings can call Maryland State Police at 301-739-2101.

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