gone but not forgotten

On February 19th, 2013 this blog broke the story of intolerable cruelty in West Vincent Township.  It was about the unwarranted shooting of two puppies named Argus & Fiona by a man named Gabe Pilotti in West Vincent Township. Since that time there has been much back and forth and legal hop scotch as people wait for a trial date so justice may be done the right way through our legal system.

This morning was supposed to have been the court date at the Chester County Courthouse in downtown West Chester, PA.  These were the charges levied back in February by the Chester County District Attorney’s Office:

CHARGES

1 M1 18 § 5511 §§A2.1IA Cruelty To Animals 02/12/2013 T 295420-6

2 M1 18 § 5511 §§A2.1IA Cruelty To Animals 02/12/2013 T 295420-6

3 M2 18 § 2705 Recklessly Endangering Another Person 02/12/2013 T 295420-6

argus and fiona

But according to my sources, no court date took place earlier this morning.  (I am sick or I would have been at the courthouse, truthfully.)

The Bock family has suffered through the loss of their dogs and the ups and downs of the justice system, and I feel really badly for them and the memory of Argus & Fiona.  No one has asked for the sun, moon, or stars.  No one has condoned or asked for vigilante justice.  All anyone has asked for is that the justice system see this through and for lawmakers to consider strengthening dog laws in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania so families and pets in this state not only have legal recourse, but laws that aren’t antiquated and might actually protect innocent pet owners and their domestic animals.

We’re still waiting.  And we want everyone to know we have not forgotten Argus & Fiona.  And neither should you.

I know that West Vincent Township would love everyone to forget about Argus  & Fiona because it happened in that warped Mayberry.  And like everything else that happens in West Vincent, it seems to be a bit of a hot mess still doesn’t it?  After all, why is it months ago when the charges were announced, why is it that West Vincent Township PD couldn’t confiscate one shotgun pending the outcome of the legal proceedings?

Mary Bock commented the other day on the Justice for Argus & Fiona Facebook page:

To all the wonderful people who have been supporting us and this fight for justice for Argus and Fiona, I wanted to give you a little update as to where we stand.  Because the defense has control over  the dates for court appearances, our initial main concern was having the gun removed from Pilotti’s possession….but because he has an “emotional attachment” to the gun it wasn’t that easy…..The DA suggested…that the gun be placed in a lock box at his neighbor’s house. The background checks were done on the neighbor and the gun was handed over….Sometimes it’s very hard to get any information…Thank you everyone for the continued support and all of your kind words

Again, I am not having a gun debate here (nor am I deliberately slamming or questioning the Chester County District Attorney’s office ) but I still fail to understand that since there has been a reckless endangerment charge pending why West Vincent didn’t pick up that gun and simply lock it up for safekeeping when those charges landed months ago? I have been told that is common practice when there are legal proceedings pending so I have always found this back and forth on what should be fairly cut and dry confusing.  I also do not get how you could have an emotional attachment to a shotgun, do you? I sure hope that West Vincent has periodically checked to see that this gun is in fact locked up  in this neighbor’s gun safe don’t you?

I do know that people in West Vincent are holding their breath still on this and let me be abundantly clear, I embrace responsible dog ownership just like I embrace responsible gun ownership.  I also respect the farmers’ rights to defend their livestock in crisis situation, but this was never a crisis situation because these puppies never attacked anything did they? I am also still at sixes and sevens as to whether or not Gabe Pilotti is actually a farmer or truly a hobbyist?  There is a difference.

I will also state again for the record that despising what Mr. Pilotti did in February is honest human emotion.  However I do not condone the behavior of people who stood in the middle of roads shouting with bullhorns or trespassed on people’s property or threatening him.  That is all wrong.

I post today to reaffirm that  people have not forgotten these poor dogs and what fate befell them and to remind lawmakers that they can’t just talk a good game when it comes to protecting our domestic pets like dogs.  They actually have to get off their duffs and DO something.  These pets aren’t property like an azalea bush or an ear of corn, they are part of our families. And since Argus & Fiona were shot to death we have heard of other cases of intolerable cruelty like this in Pennsylvania and other states.

Please contact your lawmakers again about Justice for Argus & Fiona and for changes to the dog laws and animal cruelty laws so animals are properly protected. I would also go as far as to suggest not only contacting your state elected officials (as in State Representatives and State Senators) but your U.S. Congressman as well for stronger Federal laws.  For most of us in Chester County, we are either served by Pat Meehan or Jim Gerlach.

And I really hope some day that Mr. Pilotti can express remorse to the Bocks eye to eye, don’t you? After all how will that man ever have peace in his own world without doing that?

I will close this post with a Buddhist prayer I find oddly apropos here today (yes I know not the norm you expect from a Catholic but never the less):

By the power and truth of this practice:
May all beings have happiness and the cause of happiness
May all beings be free from sorrow and the causes of sorrow
May all never be separated from the sacred happiness which is sorrow less
And may all live in equanimity without too much attachment and too much aversion
And live believing in the equality of all that lives.

-The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying

 

argus & fiona’s laws? can we do that?

DSC_0105I woke up thinking of the laws that need to change, and in my mind a bunch of things need to happen:

  1. Punishment AND fines for animal cruelty need to be tougher all the way around.  It needs to mean more than an inconvenience
  2. Pennsylvania as in the Commonwealth needs to recognize companion animals like dogs as more than property- people discussed that a few years ago when trying for stiffer puppy mill laws but I do not recall anything than some stuff getting watered down. I bet Tom Hickey from the state is watching this blog, and I would like him to connect with me.
  3. Also farm statutes must be updated so there is less “fuzzy” area. My thought is two-fold: protect the dog owners better, but still give farmers recourse. I have not fleshed that thought out anymore than that but in PA we need to remember the importance of farms as they do drive enough of state economy still.
  4. I believe that municipalities like West Vincent that used to be extremely rural need to be made to look at their zoning more closely.  After all, when you get down to it development doesn’t happen without them does it? So it is incumbent upon them to work harder for better relationships between old and new.  Also what defines a farmer versus a hobbyist with tax breaks?
  5. Gun and gaming laws. I do not want this tragedy to be overshadowed and used by a national political debate. My frame of reference is simple: school people on existing laws because one of the things so irresponsible about what happened is the fact a shotgun was discharged like that in what I am told is R2 residential as opposed to land area zoned agricultural and am I wrong in that?

argus and fionaState Senator Andy Dinniman who represents a lot of us and is a huge animal advocate is working on some law having to do with dog owners being able to sue for damages.  He says and I quote ” I am drafting a law that would allow pet owners to civilly sue those who harm or kill their pets.”  I do not know the specifics other than that but would ask that if some of his staff is watching this blog if they could  post specifics as they occur.

I urge you to contact your lawmakers on a state and federal level and ask for change that will protect our dogs better. They are a part of our families not like an ear of corn.

In Chester County to connect with Andy Dinniman:

One North Church Street
West Chester, PA 19380
Phone: 610.692.2112
Fax: 610.436.1721
Monday-Friday: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m

Andy@pasenate.com

In Chester County to bump it up to a Federal level to Congress:

Chester County
Jim Gerlach
 111 East Uwchlan Avenue
 Exton, PA 19341
610.594.1415 tel
610.594.1419 fax

Pat Meehan
 940 West Sproul Road
Springfield, PA 19064
Phone: (610) 690-7323
Fax: (610) 690-7329

Together if we focus together and ask for Justice for Argus & Fiona, maybe we can propel that forward to someday mean Argus & Fiona’s Laws.

I will also comment briefly that in spite of media spin the Facebook page Justice for Argus & Fiona , it was set up with a peaceable goal of true justice.  As in through the legal system, including changing laws to better protect dogs.

After all, one of the people who helped set up the Facebook page was Mary Bock, who is a truly lovely and gentle woman who has shown such grace and peace in the face of unbelievable family tragedy.   Make no misunderstanding with regard to that page as it is not for deviant purposes and  implication is resented. People are banned and comments are removed. Posting and commenting is a privilege, not a right.

However, the unfortunate reality is that in this world two of the most heated topics in the world are issues having to do with children and pets, and this issue involves BOTH.

Below are some media snippets from yesterday afternoon as the region learned the dogs would start to have justice, and did not die in vain.  I will comment that I am struggling with the statement Mr. Pilotti is purported to have released about remorse and prayers for the family.  Part of me hopes it is true, yet part of me wonders why he simply did not do that before the media and public got news of what happened?  Correct me if I am wrong, but didn’t he have almost a week in between the actual date of tragedy and media whirlwind to pray and show remorse?

In any event, those of us supporting the Bock family do not support violence.  Nor do we support nut jobs that stand outside anyone’s home screaming anything. No matter WHAT has transpired, we as a society cannot swirl downwards into utter lawlessness.  More bad acts will not solve any issue.

So I ask all of you to use your energy to speak out for dogs.  Get laws changed.  And oh yes, no matter what West Vincent says if you live there you have a right to be heard at the Supervisors meeting.  They may decline comment, but you have the right to public privilege of the floor or public comment.  They do not have to respond, but as elected and appointed officials part of their job is to listen. Just be polite.

I am told that this coming Monday is a normal Supervisors meeting. Monday at 7:30 PM at their Township building 729 St. Matthews Road, Chester Springs, PA 19425

Media has reported that West Vincent has not really been chatting with anyone.  I guess “unavailable” and “declining comment” would describe it best? In any event, they provide their township contact information on their website as:

729 St. Matthews Road Chester Springs, PA 19425

Phone: (610) 458-1601 Fax: (610) 458-1603

E-Mail  office@westvincenttwp.org




As always, thanks for stopping by. And to that eternally curious woman who keeps asking a mutual friend about this blog to the point of obsession? Lady, if you have to ask you don’t need to know. Grow up and quit looking for chickenman conspiracies behind every bush and hillock in West Vincent.  (No I do not know who chickenman is, nor do I care.  Even chickens have First Amendment Rights…)

Face it, you live in warped Mayberry and the sooner you own that the more at ease your  mind will be. I know it is hard for some to fathom that I post recipes and discuss politics and local issues, but so be it.  Far more interesting than standing in someone’s kitchen telling birthing stories and discussing which mustard goes best with a honey baked ham, yes?

TTFN