Killing of neighbors’ dogs in sheep pen sparks uproar

To the of Chester Springs, Bernese mountain dogs Fiona and Argus were happy, loving pets. To neighbor Gabriel , they were apparently pests.

And when he found them loose among his sheep last week, he them dead.

“It was just really vicious,” said Mary Bock. The dogs hadn’t touched the sheep.

could not be reached for comment.

As of Thursday evening, the District Attorney’s Office and the West Vincent Township Police still were determining what happened the morning of Feb. 12 in a part of Chester County where sheep, horses, and alpacas amble in yards that are larger than the patches of green in more urbanized suburbs and smaller than the acreage of more rural farms.

On that day, the dogs, 2-year-old Argus and 1-year-old Fiona, got out of their enclosed backyard when a tree branch fell and collapsed part of the fence, said Mary Bock. The dogs ran through yards of residences on the street behind them and ended up on the 72-year-old Pilotti’s property, which includes a pen where he raised sheep.

Some time around 11:30 a.m., saw the dogs near his sheep, pulled out the 20-gauge single-shot shotgun he legally owned, and fired, said West Vincent Police Chief Michael Swininger. Mary Bock said police told her Pilotti first fatally shot Argus in the face, then shot and killed Fiona.

The police investigated and sent their report to the Chester County District Attorney’s Office. The D.A. has so far not filed charges against Pilotti, citing a portion of the Pennsylvania law that says, “Any person may kill any dog which he sees in the act of pursuing or wounding or killing any domestic animal.”

That could change.

“We have gotten new information and are continuing to investigate,” said First Assistant District Attorney Michael G. Noone, adding that a development in the case could come Friday.

Mary Bock said she and her husband were alarmed by what they saw as Pilotti’s cavalier attitude. When William Bock asked Pilotti about the incident, his reply, according to the Bocks, was “I shoot first and ask questions later.”

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He told police he had not even yelled at the dogs to chase them away before shooting.

The Bocks were even more outraged when they got a phone-message recording from a neighbor whom Pilotti had called. On it, Pilotti says, “Hey, Bob, this is Gabe. Two shots, two more dogs.”

The Bocks passed out fliers warning other pet owners in the neighborhood about him.

On Monday, William Bock posted a message on his Facebook page explaining what happened to the dogs.

“It just kind of exploded from there,” Mary Bock said. Within 24 hours, more than 1,000 people had joined a Facebook page called “Justice for Argus and Fiona.”

The Chester County SPCA issued a statement condemning the shooting. And county resident Tom Hickey Sr., a member of the governor’s dog-law advisory group, questioned the district attorney’s reading of the law.

While Pilotti did not answer his phone or come to his door, next-door neighbor , a retired dentist, said Pilotti was not being fairly portrayed.

He described him as a conscientious animal owner and a good neighbor. They have been friends for years.

About a year ago, Boden said, two pit bulls attacked and killed sheep and an alpaca in the neighborhood. Pilotti saw the attacks and shot the dogs.

For that, Boden said, “He’s kind of a hero.”

He has no idea what was going through Pilotti’s mind on Feb. 12, but figures he was relating the dogs’ presence to the earlier attack.

Still, Boden said, he did not condone Pilotti’s recent actions.

“There were other alternatives than shooting them. . . . I think he did an injustice by shooting them,” Boden said, adding that Pilotti had expressed regret to him about killing Argus and Fiona.

Mary Bock said the family has contacted State Sen. Andy Dinniman (D., Chester) to see if state law can be changed to avoid future such killings.

Dinniman said he and Sen. Richard Alloway (R., Franklin) are working on a bill that would allow civil suits to be filed for up to $ 12,000 for the harm or death of a dog. Currently, dogs are viewed as a commodity and assessed only at their cost in lawsuits.

Back in the neighborhood, anger is bubbling over about the dogs’ fate.

Boden said that a woman went to Pilotti’s house Wednesday night and screamed, “Dog killer! Dog killer!,” and that there are rumors that people might kill his sheep.

“What upsets me more than anything, is that the dogs, the sheep can be replaced, but now we have a people issue,” Boden said. “I’m afraid somebody is going to do harm to somebody one way or the other over this.”

 


Contact staff writer Carolyn Davis at 610-313-8109, cdavis@phillynews.com, or @carolyntweets on Twitter.

Inquirer staff writer Mari Schaefer contributed to this article.

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    • great game brings a big smile to my little sis
    • February 22, 2013
    2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
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    Great, January 23, 2013
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    • zoe edwards
    • February 22, 2013
    2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Pepper, January 25, 2013
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    • Morgan
    • February 22, 2013
    2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
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    Awsome, February 11, 2013
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    • pinkfloydtim
    • February 22, 2013

    16:16 – Kill yourself.

    • graphitelove
    • February 22, 2013

    The ridge in a Rhodesian Ridgeback is NOT related to spina bifida >.<

    • graphitelove
    • February 22, 2013

    get a doberman or a rat terrier if you want a healthy purebred. We have never had health issues with either one of ours and we have had a few. I especially love my dobermans. The only issue with the dobe is they tend to have dry skin but seriously that is a minor thing.

    • Maria Bourne
    • February 22, 2013

    no they shouldn’t that’s killing the healthy dog you cannot call yourself a dog lover if you agree with that

    • Amanda Long
    • February 22, 2013

    I would totally take one! Exactly what I said T_T

    • Amanda Long
    • February 22, 2013

    Not all breeders are bad, especially the ones who are not breeding for show, but for companions 🙂

    • englandstillhasit
    • February 22, 2013

    This is really sad i own a staffie bull terrier and i get funny looks when in actual fact my dog is the best behaved in the dog park. So called reputable breeders make me sick the amount of animals online retired from breeding programmes but still quite expensive is just horrible.

    I will stick to the breeds they stay away from but i am very happy this show came out because it did give some drastic changes in the kennel club i hope they do a part 3

    Please watch part 2.

    • englandstillhasit
    • February 22, 2013

    The dobe does have afrw helth issues but only the norm nothing like these human induced issues. I love dobes we lost one of ours to hip dysplasia but they are big dogs. I totally agree with you tho stick with the working dog breeds and youll be sweet.

    • englandstillhasit
    • February 22, 2013

    Not only that but the more she culls the less the healthy gene will make it into the ridgebacks until the defomity is so strong they end up with twisted spines at 2yr old and not have any healthy ridgebacks to breed into them.
    I think she was sent to court after this tho watch part 2 fhis show made a big difference thankfully.

    • graphitelove
    • February 22, 2013

    Hmm I guess the thing with the hip dysplasia is that is genetic. You can see if the parents have that issue and avoid it that way, but it is not prevalant in the breed as far as I know. I especially love the old German lined dobes with the bigger bodies – not so feminized from the show ring 🙂

    • Jose Antonio Lorenzo Delgado
    • February 22, 2013

    Terry Hanna You are STUPID and i hope you lose your eyesight

    • englandstillhasit
    • February 22, 2013

    I agree with you i wouldnt want any dog from a show back ground. Your right about avoiding joint problems through hip scores and family records but saracen was a rescue so we didnt get any papers or health sheets. But we had 8 amazing years with her i was only 5 when she came and i took her everywhere i would have to hold onto fences if she saw a cat once she dragged me accross 2 gardens and got me stuck in a hedge lol i still didnt let go tho my dad couldnt stop laughing. I would love another.

    • Tallulah Durand
    • February 22, 2013

    Those people at the dog show are just fascist cunts who should be culled as they serve no purpose to society.

    • MsKiddYumi
    • February 22, 2013

    Watched all of it and I am disgusted, why is this allowed to happen?

    • Samantha Mantey
    • February 22, 2013

    These people are literally insane

    • Kate Cross
    • February 22, 2013

    The Kennel club people are f*cking morons! Culling imperfect variations and inbreeding, no wonder the pedigree dogs are going down the sh*t hole.

    • MissAnglewolf
    • February 22, 2013

    This was filmed 5-5 years ago in 2008 I’m sure things have changed quite alot.

    • PunkdRebel
    • February 22, 2013

    You would be surprised.

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