Geraldine Smalls' dog Daisy knows how to open the gate to the fenced-in yard at her St. Helena Island home.
So Smalls wasn't surprised when Daisy and her 2-month-old pitbull mix, Oreo, left the yard on Reynolds Howard Drive Tuesday.
But Smalls was surprised when Daisy returned without the puppy.
Smalls began asking neighbors if they'd seen Oreo.
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A neighborhood girl led Smalls and her mother Ruth Reynolds to a nearby abandoned trailer.
There Smalls found Oreo's body.
The puppy had been shot.
The little girl said she saw another neighbor shoot the animal and discard its body in the trailer, Smalls said.
"She knew exactly where the puppy was," Smalls said. "She heard someone say Daisy would receive the same treatment if she came back."
Smalls contacted the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office. Deputies are investigating the incident, Sgt. Robin McIntosh said. A deputy examined the puppy's body before Smalls wrapped it in a T-shirt and buried it in a field behind her daughter's home on Jenkins Port Road.
The deputy attempted to question a suspect in the shooting, but he did not answer the door, according to a Sheriff's Office news release.
Reynolds said she heard a gunshot Tuesday from the same home, but can't be certain it was the shot that killed Oreo. Smalls said hearing gunshots in her neighborhood is not uncommon. She believes some of those shots come from a group of teenage boys who vandalize homes and steal guns in her neighborhood.
"You'll hear them over there shooting every now and again. They're just gun happy," Smalls said. "But when you call the police, nothing turns up. The gun disappears. The police said there's nothing they can do, and I guess there's not. It just seems like these kids around here get away with everything."
When Smalls' and her family were out of town last April, their home was broken into and more than $700 worth of electronics were stolen. She said day-time robberies are common, even when people are home. Daisy's a help, alerting her if anyone is nearby.
Still, Smalls worries about the safety of her grandchildren who often play outside.
"We're just hoping that we could get the police to patrol this area a little more," Smalls said. "We have kids out here playing all the time. Who's to say if it wasn't a puppy? Shooting like that, the bullet's got to land somewhere."