A trial is underway for a Chester County man who admitted shooting two of his neighbors' dogs in February because he feared they would hurt his sheep.
Gabriel Pilotti is charged with two counts of animal cruelty and one count of reckless endangerment for killing the Bernese mountain dogs _ 2-year-old Angus and 1-year-old Fiona _ after they had escaped the fenced yard of their owners, Mary and William Bock.
Pilotti's jury trial began Monday.
Court documents say the 73-year-old Chester Springs man told police he shot Angus in the head while the dog trotted slowly toward him, and killed Fiona as she was running away. Police said the dogs were killed without provocation.
Defense attorney Thomas Ramsay said Pilotti just wanted to protect his sheep.
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.”