NBC10.com - Deanna Durante
Investigators say that 72-year-old Gabriel Pilotti was in no danger on Feb. 13 when he allegedly shot and killed two of his neighbor's dogs intentionally. Pilotti claims the Bernese Mountain dogs were a threat to the sheep he keeps in the yard. NBC10's Deanna Durante spoke to Pilotti's attorney and reports the details.
A Chester County man will now be charged for shooting and killing his neighbor's two beloved dogs.
“These are dogs that slept with the kids in their rooms,” said Bill Bock, who had to break the news about the family pets to his children.
“A lot of tears,” said Bock.
Argus and Fiona, Bernese Mountain dogs, escaped from their fenced yard Feb. 13 in West Vincent Township, Chester County. They wound up inside Gabriel Pilotti’s yard, where he keeps sheep.
Pilotti, 72, (pictured right) shot and killed both dogs, according to police. Investigators say he told them he was afraid the dogs would hurt his sheep.
“I asked him why he would shoot two dogs,” said Bock. “And he said, ‘I shoot first.’”
The shootings caused tension in the community because initially, Pilotti was not charged. Prosecutors said his actions were justified because of a Pennsylvania law that states you can kill a dog if it’s caught in the act of pursuing a domesticated animal.
West Vincent Police went back to investigate some more, however, and determined that the dogs were not chasing or pursuing Pilotti’s sheep when he shot them.
According to District Attorney Tom Hogan, Pilotti, shot the first dog in the head, then reloaded his shotgun and killed the second dog as it was running away from Pilotti.
“There was no justification for the killing of these two dogs,” Hogan said. “Our sympathies go out to the family and children who lost their beloved pets.”
Pilotti is charged with cruelty to animals and recklessly endangering another person because police say there was a house in the line of fire when Pilotti was shooting. Police say Pilotti "expressed remorse for his conduct."