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Alleged Dog Killer Charged With Animal Cruelty, Endangerment

DA: Gabriel Pilotti had 'no justification' for shooting his neighbors' 'beloved pets' on Feb. 12.

A West Vincent Township man has been charged in a Feb. 12 incident that resulted in the deaths of an area family's two pet dogs.

Police say Gabriel Pilotti, 72, admitted shooting "Argus" and "Fiona," Bernese Mountain Dogs belonging to the family of one of his neighbors, Mary Bock, because he discovered them chasing sheep inside an enclosed pasture on his property.

Bock told police that the dogs had escaped from her yard.

According to police, Pilotti told them during interviews on Feb. 12 and Feb. 21 that he first saw the dogs "chasing his sheep" from his kitchen window. He then retrieved a shotgun and ammunition from his garage and went outside to the edge of the sheep enclosure.

"Argus," the male dog, approached Pilotti at a trot, according to his account. He then allegedly shot "Argus" in the head, killing the dog immediately. According to police, Pilotti said he then reloaded and shot "Fiona" as she fled toward the opposite end of the pasture. "Fiona" fell, got up, ran a few more steps, then died.

According to Pilotti's statement as it appears in the criminal complaint, none of Pilotti's sheep were near either dog at the time they were shot. Police said they determined that none of Pilotti's sheep were harmed during the incident.

"There was no justification for the killing of these two dogs. The defendant has been charged and will be dealt with appropriately," Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan said in a statement issued Friday. "Our sympathies go out to the family and children who lost their beloved pets."

Pilotti has been charged with cruelty to animals and, because his attempts to shoot the dogs allegedly placed a neighbor's occupied home in the line of fire, reckless endangerment.

The incident had generated a great deal of controversy in the community before Hogan's office announced the charges on Friday. A public Facebook group that includes the dogs' owners had attracted more than 2,500 members by Friday afternoon.

Bock said on the Facebook group's page on Wednesday that her dogs escaped her yard through a damaged area in the fence and had been gone about 15 minutes when Pilotti shot them.

"Having the law on his side, in his mind, makes the choices he made that day ok. Most people would not abuse this law, but because of Gabe Pilotti we are reminded that people can be very cruel and unfortunately we cannot trust in humanity to always make the best decision," Bock wrote.

Robert Lemon February 23, 2013 at 02:04 PM
If these dogs were threatening him O.K., defend yourself. It's apparent this is a gun toting nut we're dealing with. Give him some time behind bars to contemplate his actions. He will think twice before pulling out his gun, he is a coward. Lock him up
Lin February 23, 2013 at 02:15 PM
For someone of Mr Pilotti's generation, dogs that chase livestock are a threat. It starts with chasing them and escalates into attacking them. Thank goodness there were no newborn lambs in the enclosure. I know that most people will not see it this way, but the greatest number of people in West Vincent are suburban transplants who bring a different viewpoint than the old farming mentality. It might be nice if one could walk a mile in Mr Pilotti's shoes before judging him. At the same time, my heart goes out to the family who lost their beloved pets.
Ruth February 23, 2013 at 04:27 PM
I agree with you Lin. I am almost 70 years old. I lived on a ranch when I was a little girl. Sheep are very vulnerable to attacks by dogs. The owner is responsible for keeping their dogs in their enclosure. How was he suppose to know whether the dogs were vicious or not? In CA, it is the responsibility of the owner of the dogs to keep them in their property. The owner of the dogs were responsible for the care of their dogs.
Corinnhe Griffiths February 23, 2013 at 04:54 PM
Seems to me we've seen only the ending of this story. I'd like to see the beginning, too. It might cast a totally different light on what we now know.
Carol Ronca February 23, 2013 at 05:05 PM
If you would have read more you would have seen that the man lied about the dogs chasing his sheep and when the male dog came trotting over to him he shoot it point blank in the face,then as he reloaded the gun the female was running away and he shoot her as she sat there helpless in the corner!!!
Carol Ronca February 23, 2013 at 05:07 PM
You all need to read how this all happened within 15 minutes of the dog getting out of thier yard and the owners where looking for them.Also the dog slayer is being charged!!!
Ruth February 23, 2013 at 05:47 PM
Corinnhe, I would like to see the beginning of the story too. I agree with you. Carol, I am not going to argue with anyone. What about the dogs being sheep slayers? Anyone who knows anything about sheep knows that they are helpless ;and need protection. Have you thought about the sheep? They are helpless. Dogs are not. Carol, just because he is being charged does not mean that he will be found quilty. It sounds like you have all ready judged and sentenced him.
Ruth February 23, 2013 at 05:47 PM
Corinnhe, I would like to see the beginning of the story too. I agree with you. Carol, I am not going to argue with anyone. What about the dogs being sheep slayers? Anyone who knows anything about sheep knows that they are helpless ;and need protection. Have you thought about the sheep? They are helpless. Dogs are not. Carol, just because he is being charged does not mean that he will be found quilty. It sounds like you have all ready judged and sentenced him.
Carol Ronca February 23, 2013 at 07:07 PM
Read all the facts first!The dogs where not near the sheep and he shoot at them in the direction of a house!Also I know sheep I had a farm myself!And yes I have judged and sentenced him cause he shot at a dog that was in the corner of the fence with no where to go and just shoot them!!!!
Ruth February 23, 2013 at 10:45 PM
Michel, I live in another state, so sorry. Plus, we do not have individual mailboxes. The whole street has them all in one place, together. We are not allowed to put anything on them. Good idea!! Hi Carol, if people are going to start arguing with my statements then I will not comment. You can argue among yourselves. I like all of you!!
Green Bean February 23, 2013 at 11:49 PM
Has logic been abandoned? The dogs were not under control, The owners were negligent. Charging this gentlemen, whether he needed to kill those dogs or not, is a disgusting attack on freedom.
j m February 24, 2013 at 01:51 AM
If the owners of the dogs kept them on there own property and not them run lose this would not have happened . Lock up the owners not the man who shot the dogs.
KC February 24, 2013 at 04:29 PM
A mob mentality is not the way to handle this situation. There are always three sides to a story - yours, mine and the TRUTH. May we all mourn the loss of the dogs, and wait for ALL the evidence to come out? The media is very good with spinning only what THEY want us to believe - we weren't there and until all the facts are on the table we shouldn't be judging anyone - the owner of the dogs or the shooter. Sheesh, people, control your selves. What seems to BE, is not always what it IS. I am not defending the shooter or the owners of the dogs. I am feeling bad for ALL the parties involved.
Abt February 24, 2013 at 04:55 PM
I surely hope, Ruth, that it isn't your age that prevents you from fully understanding the actual facts and sequence of events in this story.
Abt February 24, 2013 at 04:58 PM
Well, just look it up in the Inquirer or somewhere.
Abt February 24, 2013 at 05:00 PM
Sounds like someone has some serious double standards when it comes to an individual's responsibility for their own actions.
michele February 24, 2013 at 05:12 PM
the idiot that shot those dogs told the police the truth: they WERE NOT chasing his sheep. He also admitted to police that he left a telephone message on the dog owners phone "2 shots, 2 dogs"....now tell me what kind of person would do that? I don't care if he's older and maybe he just didn't like his neighbors, did anyone ever think of that? He had no reason for shooting those poor dogs and think about the family! I have dogs and if someone did that to my dogs, I'd be wanting his butt! Also, if the owners did not know there was a defect in their fence, it has nothing to do with why that idiot shot their dogs! He needs to be put in jail and reprimanded to the full extent of the law!
Bill A February 24, 2013 at 05:47 PM
Years ago, my family lived in east Vincent twp. next to a dairy farm. I had two rambunctious dogs who learned over time to cheat the Invisable Fence we had installed. They bee-lined it to the farm and started running his cattle. We had no idea where they went (at the time). They came back, and soon after, I received a call from the farmer letting us know what went down. We talked for a bit; and the conversation ended with him telling me that if he saw them on his property again, he'd shoot them. I said "go ahead. You have my permission". Well, my luck, and theirs, was bad. They worked their way through th fence again about two months later, and you can guess the rest. He killed the one, and injured the second, which eventually recovered. He gave warning, he'd been farming there long before I showed up. We loved those dogs; they were part of the family. But I deferred to the neighbor for the two reasons I mentioned. It was a very difficult time, but all these years later, I have no regrets. It was the fair and just way to deal with it.
Abt February 24, 2013 at 07:52 PM
Thanks for sharing the reminiscences, even if they have little connection with the story at hand.
Durable February 24, 2013 at 08:12 PM
People should better understand this breed of dog than to jump to conclusions that they were attacking sheep. Burmese mountain dogs are big and gentle. They are similar to the saint bernards that are used to rescue people in avalanches. There definitely is a back story here that we don't know about. I would guess that this guy has a bit of a history being unneighborly to the 'new comers' in the area. If he has lived there most of his life, I'm sure there have been a whole lot of changes that he is not happy with. Probably the least of which are these neighbors with the dogs. What is completely reprehensible is that he shot a gun in the line of site of another house. As a responsible gun owner myself, I find that this behavior is completely irresponsible. For those of you that live in Chester county and what to vent: Here is the DA's website and phone number: http://www.chesco.org/index.aspx?NID=1441 610-344-6801 and leave a message At the very least they should throw the book at him for the unlawful discharging of his weapon. If kids had gotten into his sheep pen would he have shot at them too?
Tom Julian February 25, 2013 at 03:35 PM
It's all in the police report in the summary of their interview with Pilotti. http://media.philly.com/documents/DogShootingComplaint.pdf
Tom Julian February 25, 2013 at 03:37 PM
The shooter didn't have the freedom to kill the dogs. That's why he is being charged. I think that's a confusion with freedom and being a a$$hole. Please read the police report. It explains what happened. http://media.philly.com/documents/DogShootingComplaint.pdf
Tom Julian February 25, 2013 at 03:38 PM
the police report is clear about what happened and it's the shooter's own story. http://media.philly.com/documents/DogShootingComplaint.pdf make up your own mind, though it's clear to me what happened.
John Q. Public March 02, 2013 at 12:34 PM
Would he shoot kids, as in human children? If we all work at it, this story can escalate into a Stephen King novel.
Abt March 02, 2013 at 02:37 PM
Well John, In a Stephen King novel, a character like Gabriel Pilotti would have been doing all sorts of most abominable things.
stephen mac inyre March 05, 2013 at 08:55 PM
do you like to eat dogs
Kittygirl March 30, 2013 at 03:49 AM
I can't believe this statement. These dogs were very obviously not part of your family, no person who loved their dogs would make ludicrous statements like this. If you really loved these dogs you would have made sure the fence was secure after giving your neighbor permission to shoot them. I hope that you are shown the same compassion when you make mistakes in your life.
Kittygirl March 30, 2013 at 03:54 AM
"You can judge a society by the way it treats its animals" - Gandhi If you were defending your livestock from an attack that is one thing, killing pets for sport reveals the mean spirited, cruel , being you are.
Sissy April 07, 2013 at 03:54 PM
The guy shot towards another person's property. What if someone on that property was killed? The man was reckless and therefore charged because he was... in the wrong.
Boywonder May 22, 2013 at 11:34 PM
If your kids were to go around harassing injuring, or killing cattle/sheep would it be ok for your neighbor to shoot them? I'm just asking because if he warned you it would be ok right? According to your logic it would be...........

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