Roxborough family searches for answers in recent dog killing

Four days after Megan Gambone’s dog was fatally shot on her Roxborough property in broad daylight, she continues to search for answers.

The 55-lb rescue Labrador mix, Mr. Dogg, was killed in the family’s fenced-in yard on Leverington Ave. on Saturday evening while she was inside the house with her 18-month-old daughter, her friend, Joe, and his two daughters, aged three and 16-months. 

Philadelphia Police don’t have any leads on the shooter or a motive, due to the lack of witnesses and bullet casings in the area, but Gambone says she wishes more could be done.

“It’s really sad that my dog died and it’s obvious that we’re pretty shaken about it, but we are far more concerned that somebody shot a gun into our yard,” she said. “That’s what I want them to investigate.”

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Gambone found her dog next to the house with a bullet wound to his side after hearing a small pop – which she didn’t initially think was a gunshot – followed directly by a yelp. Gambone rushed him to Penn Vet Hospital where he was euthanized after suffering from a collapsed lung. The veterinarian suggested that the bullet was likely from a .22 caliber gun, such as a small revolver, pistol or, possibly, a rifle. 

A quiet street with no barking reports on record 

But a gun of any type is rare along this quiet neighborhood stretch of the city’s Roxborough section. The Gambones’ house is located on the 400 block of Leverington Ave., a block full of families, pets and pedestrians.

“If you sit on the porch, especially on a nice day, you can count baby strollers going by, lots of dogs, bikers, everybody,” said Gambone’s husband, Mark.

With that community setting in mind, the Gambones are baffled as to who would take their dog’s life. They said Mr. Dogg never made a habit of barking and, when he did bark, the family never received any complaints.

But Brian Abernathy, chief of staff to Managing Director Rich Negrin, says those types of complaints are not uncommon, in fact, the number of those complaints is actually on the rise in Philadelphia. 

“In December 2011, we received 45 barking complaints, January – 51, and February was 75,” Abernathy said. He added that he had no reports on file for the Gambone address or the surrounding area.

Abernathy said when animal control crews are called out to the neighborhood for barking, they talk with the owner and, possibly, issue a ticket, if they feel it’s appropriate. But he usually urges neighbors to try to solve the problem themselves.

Community support and concern 

Other neighbors along Leverington Ave. share similar sentiments. While Megan was outside for about 20 minutes on Tuesday, she was approached by a flock of neighbors—most of whom she had never met—and drivers along Leverington Ave. 

Dorothy, a Roxborough resident who saw Megan on the news and set out with her boxer to find her, said she’s worried about the safety of the neighborhood dogs and children. She said it’s a dog’s job to bark, to protect its owner’s family.

“If [my dog] barks, I allow her to bark,” she said. “That’s what dogs do. [Mr. Dogg] was doing his job to protect the family.”

Tina, another dog owner who lives a few doors down, said she’s already created new routines with her dog.

“We got the same kind of gates like she does,” said Tina. “This morning I took out my dog and I stood outside in the freezing cold until she went to the bathroom because I’m afraid someone might come up.”

Teresa, another neighbor, said the fact that a gun was shot near her home raises major safety concerns.

“It’s making me start to wonder about the neighborhood,” she said. “There’s a lot of dogs, why her dog? I never hear it [barking].”

Teresa also looks after her granddaughter during the day and said that she often plays with her on the sidewalk. But now, she’s worried about taking the three year old outside.

Searching for a suspect 

Gambone said the police told her that since there were no bullet casings, the shot might have been fired from either a car, or inside a house. Additionally, she said they told her the shot was fired from the front of the house on Leverington Ave.

Officer Christine O’Brien, spokeswoman for the Philadelphia Police Department, said if someone was arrested for this crime, they would face animal cruelty charges, a misdemeanor of the second degree. She added that punishment could range anywhere from a fine to a couple of years on probation.

When asked if the person responsible could also be charged for illegally discharging a firearm, O’Brien didn’t give a direct answer.

In an effort to track down the shooter, many members of the Roxborough community have offered to help the Gambones raise money, if they decide to start a reward fund.

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