Reader submitted photo- Hurricane Harvey havoc – Saint Thomas’ Church and School, 4900 Jackwood St Houston, Texas, TX
This is a story that started in Chester County when earlier this summer we sad goodbye to a friend of ours from high school who had been one of the clergy at Good Samaritan in Paoli. He received a new calling and was headed to Texas, to a beautiful church and school in Houston – St. Thomas’ Church and School Our friend is an associate rector and chaplain at this lovely church and school.
They have been devastated by Harvey. Our friend has barely been settled in but a minute.
Gabriel Pilotti has faced his punishment on his animal cruelty conviction.
Judge Nagle a short while ago gave Pilotti 2 years probation, 90 days on a monitor, restitution $800 per dog, $1000 fine, no guns , 200 hrs community service.
I have thought about this long and hard, and a component of true justice is mercy. Did he show mercy to those dogs?
The answer of course is a resounding NO.
But given his age, although he may have deserved some jail time, I have to leave this to the experts, namely Judge Nagle and the Chester County District Attorney’s Office.
The greater punishment in my eyes is he has been branded by the courts and a jury of his peers as a dog murderer. He loses his guns too.
He is in a permanent jail of sorts the rest of his days because he has to live in a community that does not respect what he did.
So he can go to church and his born-again Christian glory all he wants, he is in the eyes of the public something else entirely.
His supporters have already begun to leave comments up here, and they’re calling this a victory. I am not sure exactly what it is they have won, and they should in all honesty consider it in reality more of phyrric victory.
Justice has been served, and Argus and Fiona did not die in vain.
For months I have wanted to write about this. Even before what happened to Argus & Fiona. But friends of mine asked me not to, they wanted to pursue this through proper channels in the legal system. They were afraid they would not see justice for what happened to them and one of their dogs. So they did things the “right” way and basically got screwed by the legal system in my humble opinion. It is my opinion if the laws were different, maybe the outcome would have been as well.
This, therefore is a cautionary tale and since April is prevention of cruelty to animals month, I am also posting.
So there was this couple. They fell in love and bought this crazy gorgeous house in Mt. Joy in Lancaster County. I was at their wedding. I photographed their wedding. Not so long after they tied the knot in December 2011 they rescued a puppy. They named him Porter.
I know everyone says all puppies are adorable and cute and sweet, but Porter seemed to have all that going on and more. Just a nice dog. He survived a horrible bout of Parvo after being rescued. As he recovered, he settled into his new family and started to grow up.
Everything was going along swimmingly until mid-January. My friend was in her kitchen accepting a delivery from a local farm called Breakaway Farms (and they deliver clear down to Washington, DC and you can bet I will never patronize them after this or knowingly patronize a business that buys from them, and I am entitled to that opinion aren’t I?)
….so here we are in the kitchen with all this gorgeous chicken and lamb freshly delivered. And there was the deliveryman. Without getting into too much detail, it was perhaps the strangest thing I’ve seen in many years. And since it was happening in my own kitchen, it was quite surreal.
Within a flash of a second, this man had our Porter pinned the kitchen floor, hands on his neck, full weight of his body on top of the 49lb dog. Porter screamed out for help,
lost complete bowel control yet still did not bite this man (although he would have been welcome to at that point). The man picked Porter up, opened our back door – and threw him out. Porter stood quivering in the backyard, curled into a protective ball, tail tucked between his legs. He was covered in his own urine and feces.
In my rare stroke of good luck, I was able to be calm with the man. Did I want to gut him like a fish? Oh hell yes. But being able to maintain some calm in an otherwise insane scene, I knew what I had to do was be calm and get him out
before he hurt Porter more, or turned on me…. I made a quick call to one of the business owners. I’ve done business with these folks before and I liked them. I expected nothing other than a very reasonable response.
After that, we waited to hear from the other half of the ownership, and waited, and waited. We watched Porter’s demeanor and could clearly see the effects of the assault. He was afraid to even go into his own kitchen. It was clear we needed to contact the police….A call to the police doesn’t always “pack the same” punch (no pun intended) of
going Walking Tall on someone. But it was the right thing to do. People who so easily do things like this to an animal are capable of just as easily doing this to a human being. And animal abuse isn’t something to glaze by “just because
it’s an animal.” No. Not in this house, and not in yours either we’re guessing. Hoping. This guy needs to be prosecuted.
We live in Mount Joy Borough, PA. I’m not sure how big, or maybe I should say how small this place is. It’s tiny.
When we all learned what happened to their dog, we wanted to shout it from the roof tops. But our friends said they wanted to play it safe in a small town in Lancaster County and let Lady Justice deal with it. Well apparently, Lady Justice isn’t a dog person, because this is what happened next again in my friend’s own words:
…..there was the underlying stress of this morning’s court date against our beautiful dog Porter’s attacker, Dale Burns. Until today, we had not released his name wanting to give the judicial system its fair shake first. I was not
actually feeling stressed about the event, more looking forward to staring this beast in the eye and listening to his account of that day’s events. The details of that day are still exceptionally fresh in my mind.
Closing my eyes, or looking into Porter’s, I can see the brutally of what was probably only just a few minutes, and still hear his screams. I’ve been clear about the facts of the story, consistent. And exceptionally clear that Porter in
no way provoked this man into grabbing him by the neck and slamming him to the floor…..In court, we saw the “cleaned up” version of Dale. Maybe there were a few less inches of beard. There was some sort of button-down shirt, button at the top and bottom only, with the grungy farm garb clearly visible underneath. But there we finally were, face to face. There was his “attorney,” equally disheveled in an attempt to clean up and present for the day. And there was our “prosecutor.” In this tiny town, your reporting police officer is often your prosecutor….I told my side of the story. Clear, concise and factual. He told his story,
which at points read more like a fairytale. Officer Cook asked his questions. Dale’s “lawyer” asked his, hinting at how absurd the entire story sounded – a deliveryman coming into my home and playing with one dog, then mentally snapping and slamming another to the ground. The judge, a local Mount Joy attorney, took it all in before calling Officer Cook and the lawyer back into his quarters.
When they returned, the judge explained how all four charges were being dismissed. He first explained that the animal cruelty charge was being dismissed because according to PA state statutes, Dale had to have a “duty to care” for Porter, which he did not. I heard next something about the disorderly conduct charge being dropped, my elderly neighbor not being there to testify about the
screaming she heard from Porter that day. And then I just didn’t hear anymore. We had lost. For the second time, I had failed to protect my dog. There was no justice for Porter in that court…..
I am still sick to my stomach every time I hear about this. There are way too many cruel humans around. And this illustrates yet again why dog laws and animal cruelty laws need to be improved, need to change, and additional laws need to be created.
And the irony that this incident occured and was kicked to the curb in Lancaster County. After all Lancaster County is known as what? Puppy Mill Capital of PA, right? All that glorious farm land, scenery, and antiquing hides the dark underbelly of something doesn’t it? A place where dogs are no more valuable than an ear of corn, and twice as disposable.
The horse is out of the barn, and now my friend has a young dog forever tainted by the brush of violence. It is like this dog has post traumatic stress syndrome. Seriously, read on (again in my friend’s own words):
For the last two plus months since Porter was attacked inside our our home by a deliveryman, many of you have been kind enough to continue asking how he is recovering. Every day,every encounter with someone outside the immediate family, has been a test for Porter. One month ago, there was a ray of hope when someone came to the door and he suddenly ran right up to him. A few nights later, he was back to cowering in a corner and shaking, despite efforts to get him to come over to get his head scratched or belly rubbed…..Nearly three months after being attacked, we’d have to say that it looks like our boy is changed forever. Porter is no ordinary dog. In fact, he’s more human than dog. Porter, a gorgeous red aussie shepherd, is extremely smart and sensitive…..The downside of Porter’s intelligence in light of this attack is that he has
learned not to trust everyone as he used to do. He now knows humans can be capable of some very ugly behavior. He knows this first hand. Porter was a rescue dog. He was part of a litter dumped on the side of the road in North
Carolina. We adopted him hours after his arrival in Philly after he was saved by some pretty incredible people, only to find out the next day he had parvo virus and a host of other potentially lethal bugs. He has cheated death twice already
– and certainly deserves to live a life of nothing but happiness at this point.
The Porters and Arguses and Fionas and Zoes and Izzys of this world deserve better from humans. I am not a lawmaker, but maybe all of us, together, peacably, can make a difference. This is why it is important you contact your lawmakers and ask them to change more laws and protect Pennsylvania’s dogs. Useless people like Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz are already doing the coy dance for governor, so let us make this an issue in Pennsylvania every election until this is done.
Our dogs are part of our families. I have had rescues who were badly abused, abandoned, even one that was in a horrible house fire and then abandoned before I rescued him.
My heart is heavy because this is so unfair, so unjust. What if this happens again in Mt. Joy or some area serviced by this farm? Then what?
Say a prayer to St. Francis and hug your dogs and keep them safe. You just never know what will happen. Look what happened to Porter. In his own home, in front of his humans. And why? For what? He was just a puppy.
UPDATE 3.27.13 11:33 a.m: *UPDATE* Tom Hickey from DogPAC just called. He says that his sources have told him the hearing is STILL on for Pilotti (Argus & Fiona) 3 pm at 1130 Ridge Rd in Pottstown, PA. He asks that if you are able to come show support, to please do so in a peacable manner. No one expects this hearing to last more than five minutes – it will undoubtedly get waived to county court. But apparently, he does have to appear. This is all we know and what we have been told.
UPDATE 3.27.13 10:08 a.m.: Greetings – this morning greets everyone who want justice for Argus & Fiona with confusion. Some sources say Pilotti has waived his hearing so there is nothing today, other sources say everything is moving dates again. So the long and short of it is, we just don’t know. We will update when we do. Sorry to put folks in a holding pattern. We appreciate your support.
UPDATE 7:40 P.M. (and note this is a moving target so who knows if it will move again or not):
Tom Hickey from DogPAC was kind enough to connect and tell us the hearing date had indeed changed….to TOMORROW. YES ANOTHER CHANGE TOMORROW (Wednesday, March 27th) at 3 p.m . If you can be there to show your support, THANK YOU. You know , they can keep changing it and we will still come, 1130 Ridge Road Pottstown, PA 19465 Justice, Love and Change ~ Argus and Fiona ♥ spread the word! And VERY important – out of respect to the dogs and the Bock family, if you go tomorrow, PLEASE just bear witness quietly and show support. No drama or the dogs will lose out. It is my belief this district justice doesn’t want this in his court, but I could be wrong.
I feel a bit like a puppy chasing it’s tail this morning. It seems that Justice for Argus & Fiona is not going to be so simple after all. We are hearing that the court date for Commonwealth v. Pilotti has been moved….again….we are hearing 3/28/2013 at 8:30 a.m. (We are waiting for media and other sources to confirm this 100% but that is what a law enforcement source has said.)
If you refer to the official court docket you will see that the date of the hearing in the court room of Magisterial District Judge James V. Deangelo has been moving about like a game of Chinese Checkers. The original hearing was 3/28/13 at 9 am. Then it was 4/4/2013 at 9 a.m. and then it was 4/4/2013 at 1 p.m. However on another docket most people never click on called the Public Court Summary is says “Next Action Date: 03/28/2013”
So we now have ANOTHER change that the court will neither confirm or deny: that the trial is BACK to 3/28/2013 or this THURSDAY as in the day before Good Friday and Easter Weekend.
I have to ask why this court date and the times are moving at such an extraordinary rate. Is this a ploy on the part of the defense, a/k/a Gabe Pilotti’s lawyer? Or is it because the District Justice Court in Pottstown keeps moving the date to avoid a media spotlight and crowds of Justice for Argus & Fiona supporters? Do the officials elected or otherwise in West Vincent have anything to do with this?
I want to remain calm, cool and collected and avoid conspiracy theories, but I have to tell you when you have VERY reliable sources telling you the D.A.’s office in Chester County is telling THEM the date is the 28th of March again or this Thursday as in two days from now, yet when I call out to the court and speak to a lovely woman named Rebecca who asks me how I heard this because (and I quote) “It is not the 28th…nothing formally has been changed…but you can check the docket later.” well it is darn frustrating.
So it seems to me something more is afoot. I can’t help but think someone is trying to sneak something past everyone AND the poor Bock family who have a right to their day in court for their beloved pets.
Here is the address and phone number of D’Angelo’s court:
Magisterial District Judge:James V. DeAngelo District Court 15-3-01 1130 Ridge Road Pottstown, PA 19465-8612
Phone: 610-469-1910 Fax:610-469-1913
Townships of Spring City, North Coventry, South Coventry, East Coventry, Warwick, East Nantmeal, East Vincent, and West Vincent
The Chester County District Attorney’s office telephone number is (610) 344-6801. Feel free to call D.A. Tom Hogan’s office and ask what the CORRECT date is and why the date to a simple hearing in a Magisterial District Court is jumping around quite so much.
Regional and local media, you have been so incredibly generous in your coverage of this issue. We hope you can see all this Tom Foolery over the magically moving court date will encourage you to resume coverage. After all, will justice be so thorough without the eyes of the region upon her?
Supporters of dog issues please watch the court dockets too. Apparently it is going to take more than a village to get justice after all.
To be clear, I am not a big fan of West Vincent government. I think they rule oddly over one of the prettiest places in Chester County. And weird and unnecessary things always seem to happen. And for Pete’s sake, elected officials seem to spend an inordinate amount of time worrying and spreading nonsense about a writer called Chickenman don’t they?
West Vincent the truth shall set you free but that is a topic for another day. Well, it won’t be if you aren’t respectful of your citizenry at the upcoming Supervisors Meeting on Monday February 25th at 7:30 pm. I know full well residents have contacted you and requested that the matter of the shooting to death of puppies Argus and Fiona be put on the agenda. If you try to stifle your people on this, West Vincent, the hue and cry over attempting eminent domain at Ludwig’s Corner Horse Show will be child’s play by comparison.
West Vincent Township is located at : 729 St. Matthews Road Chester Springs, PA 19425 Phone: (610) 458-1601
Residents want to learn about firearm use in a residential area, what constitutes a farm, and how to make changes to bad laws. And in addition to all of this, they strive to find a positive from this tragedy. West Vincent, you owe decency and answers to your citizenry.
To the citizenry I urge you to make your voices heard respectfully. Emotions are running hot on this issue and I was told by a reporter today about a woman who stood outside the dog shooter’s house yesterday and just stood in his driveway yelling “Dog killer!!” at him for 5 minutes. That, I am so sorry, is not cool. First of all he has guns and isn’t afraid to use them, and secondly he has neighbors who must feel under siege by all the media crawling around West Vincent, and third and most importantly things need to happen the right way with this. Don’t stoop to the level of someone who shoots dogs, please.
A friend of mine commented something that is worth repeating. She was afraid of people getting too vigilante justice for lack of a better term. She is absolutely correct that cooler heads must prevail.
It is with that in mind that I must say that encouraging people to call this guy who shot the dogs or stand outside his property is NOT the right thing to do. In my mind that falls into two wrongs don’t make a right.
If you want to help, show the Bock family support and condolences and empathy- losing a pet under ANY circumstances is so hard, and what happened to their dogs IS intolerable cruelty, but justice should be served under the law by those qualified to serve it.
If you want to help, get Pennsylvania lawmakers to update outmoded farm statutes and other laws so Pennsylvania’s dogs are PROTECTED.
If you want to help, go show support for these people at the upcoming West Vincent Board of Supervisors meeting and ask them to do their jobs as elected and appointed officials the RIGHT way.
If you want to help ask the Chester County DA to ensure that people use firearms responsibly as in DON’T fire them in residential areas and gun down dogs and possibly put unsuspecting humans at risk. Violence should NOT beget violence. As adults we have the free will and ability to pay this forward the RIGHT way.
And among other things, we need to pass that along to our children. Ok so lecture is over.
Let us get back to the business at hand: Justice for Argus & Fiona and peace and love for their humans. Together we can enact positive change so other dog owners don’t go through this. thanks for reading.The momentum is growing. Truly together we can enact change. It might take time, lots of petitions and bus trips to Harrisburg, but we can do it. And if we are successful, other pet owners and their furry friends might be spared unspeakable tragedy.
Now as far as the Chester County District Attorney goes, the following message was sent to media today:
The Chester County District Attorney’s Office will have a press release tomorrow with significant new information about the dog shooting incident in Chester Springs, PA.
Administrative Assistant to District Attorney Thomas P. Hogan,
First Assistant Michael Noone, and Chief of Staff Charles Gaza
Chester County District Attorney’s Office
201 West Market Street, Suite 4450
Post Office Box 2746
West Chester, PA 19380-0989
I have no idea what this means, but I hope it means they are taking a second look.
I am also taking this opportunity to share something from the Justice for Argus & Fiona Facebook page written by Mary Bock:
The outpouring of support has been amazing. Can I say that again? There is even support from elected officials like State Senator Andy Dinniman. Congressman Jim Gerlach has also been made aware, so I urge anyone who reads this to contact elected officials about this horrible turn of events.
Now a lawyer I know sent me three things for people to read, so please do:
WEST VINCENT — The Chester County District Attorney’s Office is expected to release new information Friday in the shooting deaths of two family dogs in Chester Springs last week.
According to a statement from a District Attorney’s Office spokesperson, authorities will release “significant” new details related to the killing of two Bernese Mountain Dogs who were shot on Feb. 12 after they escaped a fenced-in yard in the unit block
The District Attorney’s Office previously determined that the shooting was legal due to a century-old state law allowing someone to kill animals that pursue their own livestock or pets.
Officials said Thursday afternoon that investigators received additional information in the case and that the investigation is ongoing.
Mary Bock, the owner of the two dogs, spoke out Thursday about the experience and expressed hope that her pets’ deaths may lead to a change in the law that allowed their killing to initially be ruled legal.
Bock also spoke about the neighbor, Gabriel Pilotti, who told police he killed the dogs with a shotgun because they entered an enclosure housing his sheep. She said Pilotti expressed no remorse over the dogs’ deaths when her husband, William Bock, confronted him last week.
“It seemed like he almost enjoyed it a little bit,” Mary Bock said. “He was so cold and callous, he feels like he did nothing wrong. There were a million things he could have done differently, and he chose to pick up that gun and kill them.”
The dogs, 2-year-old Argus and 1-year-old Fiona, were shot less than 15 minutes after escaping the Bock’s two-acre property through a fence that was damaged by a falling tree limb several days before. The dogs eventually made their way to Pilotti’s nearby property, where they began an attempt to “herd” his sheep, Bock said.
Inquirer staff writer Mari A. Schaefer contributed to this article.
To the Bock family of Chester Springs, the Bernese mountain dogs Fiona and Argus were happy, loving pets. To neighbor Gabriel Pilotti, they were apparently pests.
And when he found them loose among his sheep last week, he shot them dead.
“It was just really vicious,” Mary Bock said. The dogs had not touched the sheep.
As of Thursday evening, the Chester County District Attorney’s Office and the West Vincent Township police still were trying to determine what happened the morning of Feb. 12 in a part of Chester County where sheep, horses, and alpacas amble in yards larger than the patches of green in more urbanized suburbs and smaller than more rural farms.
On that day, the dogs, two-year-old Argus and one-year-old Fiona, got out of their enclosed backyard when a tree branch fell and collapsed part of the fence, Mary Bock said. 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 keeps sheep.
Around 11:30 a.m., Pilotti saw the dogs near his sheep, pulled out the 20-gauge single-shot shotgun he legally owns, 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.
Police investigated and sent their report to the District Attorney’s Office. That office has not filed charges against Pilotti, citing a portion of the Pennsylvania dog 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 could come Friday.
Pilotti could not be reached for comment.
And oh yeah, people from some church called Calvary Fellowship in Downingtown have been calling the Bock family and I have to ask why? And what do the West Vincent police have as far as info for the family? Someone says they want to speak with them today?
But there is something fugly and funky going on about this website because for a few minutes it came up and then it went down.
So the reason I was sent this post was so I could see the apparent systemic problems with horse rescue within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Can we say it isn’t just Jessica Basciano, Barbara Luna, Turning for Home and Off the Track Thoroughbred Rescue that people need to have their eyes open with?
This manure pile that is horse rescue seems to have a lot of whinnying going on, yet the more I read about it, the more I wonder why PA’s Attorney General isn’t looking at inconsistencies and oddities in all of this from the end of those who are registered in PA as charities to criminal investigations having to do with animal rescues? From how the horses leave the track and where they go to how the horse rescues run and if they meet to burden for animal protection and welfare let alone how these businesses and non-profits run doesn’t it just seem the questions are layered with questions?
And let me be clear, I am not just speaking about the two rescues blogged about up here before, but the entire business of horse rescue in Pennsylvania. I heard a tale yesterday of a situation going on at another Chester County barn that seems just nutty. I don’t own horses, never have, never will. But am I wrong in saying that it seems the only consistency about horse rescue in Pennsylvania are the many inconsistencies? Is it just me who seems to feel that if there are hard and fast rules, there seems to be a lot of gray area for interpretation?
And lets talk about the group that is supposed to be helping being the eyes and ears of right, ok? LAPS or Large Animal Protection Society? I have been told repeatedly by those in animal rescue in general that these folks have badges or something? That they can go in and do surprise inspections and if need be, remove animals? But is their judgement clouded because of personal relationships their ranks may or may not have with persons in the groups they are supposed to keep an eye on? (And before someone in LAPs gets in a lather, sorry but it is not beyond the realm of reasonable to ask questions is it?) And what of all the people worried about horses in Chester County who have a hard time with LAPs personnel? Are they all bad people out to bad mouth LAPs or are they merely good people who keep going back to the well that is LAPs hoping they will actually do their job?
LAPs has on their own website:
LAPS Can Assist Other Humane Agencies
In addition to investigating reports of cruelty to large animals, prosecution offenders, and rehabilitating and placing animals in new homes, LAPS is always ready and willing to provide information and support to other agencies both within and out-of-state. We have provided people in other counties with the means and knowledge to encourage their local law enforcement officials to step in when the local humane societies do not, and have many times supported the State Police in their investigations in areas where the humane agencies do not provide service.
Also, we are glad to help anyone wishing to organize a humane society in an area not currently serviced by one. We have “been there, done that” and are more than willing to share the information you will need to get started. Our knowledge of the way the system works has been hard-won over the years since 1988 we have been in existence. If you need help, just call!
I will note that I went to www.GuideStar.org and pulled the most recent 990s I could find on Turning for Home, LAPs, and Another Chance for Horses. I am posting them as they are public record and they are registered non-profits. There are no 990s to be posted on Off The Track Thoroughbred Rescue because has anyone ever been able to actually find a business registered, a non-profit registered, or is it just a fictitious name registration? Maybe that is why the judgement I found based on that recent court date is lodged against Ms. B? (See the links below, you can check the documents out yourself.)
Every time I say I am done with this cautionary tale the more that crops up. Water seeks its own level, mold spreads, choose your analogy I have but one final question and that is when did it stop being about what is right for the horses?
I think a non-profit rescue called the “Foxie G Foundation” took in some of these poor beasts and apparently same person as involved in that case last year in Adam’s County a guy named James Houseman. It is like hop scotch with horses. )
By Sari Heidenreich – email (PALMYRA, Pa. (WHTM) -Twenty four horses, including four who are pregnant, were seized from a Dauphin County farm by the Humane Society of Harrisburg last week….Earlier this month, Kaunas said this is the first type of horse hoarding case she has seen.)
Sigh….do people really think that what they write on the Internet is private? And when they yickety yack no one will dish on them?
And I so love (yes love) when I am referred to by those who just ummm…doth protesteth too much.
Here’s the 411: I did not go looking for irregularities in horse rescue. I am not rescuing a horse, have never rescued a horse, no longer ride. This all started because of strange postings on Craig’s List. Not really knowing many in the horse community, I had no idea how this issue would literally explode. I still have no clue who put up those Craig’s List postings. But whomever they are, they exposed a seedy underbelly.
All these people rolled up and started commenting. Apparently this is a HUGE issue in the racing and horse community. Once Pandora’s stall was opened more stuff was found on the internet and more and more people left comments.
This is not an advertised blog. Yet here are all these people caring about the same thing.
So it ends up this horse hurricane is centered around a non-profit called Turning For Home and as I understand it a woman who helps dole out these horses leaving the professional life named Barbara Luna? As I have come to understand it based upon the MANY MANY comments of others left on these posts she works with horse rescues? The one that piqued my curiosity, was the one that kept cropping up as a topic on those Craig’s List ads was Off The Track Rescue run by a woman named Jessica Basciano . Until the Craig’s List ads I had never heard about ANY of this.
Off The Track Rescue unless someone can tell me differently does not appear to be a non-profit or even a formerly formed business, does it? Can anyone find anything other than a fictitious name registration? Note, that is nothing illegal, but most rescues I know of are non profits so they can accept donations for which people get a tax write off and so they can apply for grants. Because why? Rescue is EXPENSIVE. Comments on these posts from people involved with this Jessica and from Jessica herself seem to indicate that the Barbara Luna seems to give like an allowance per horse she places with them? Is that enough money and quite honestly without a non-profit status or falling under the umbrella of another non-profit isn’t that a taxable nightmare?
Anyway, the fur has been flying since I first mentioned funky Craig’s List ads. Back and forth and back and forth and back and forth. Some of the comments left by those PRO-rescue can indeed be interpreted as harassing or threatening and the tales of what happens when the horse sets complain about this rescue is a little odd isn’t it?
And also odd the Where’s Waldo of it all as far as locations of this rescue. They say Glenmoore, but then there are also references to Phoenixville and Oxford and then lots of refuting a couple of the locations like they don’t exist but people see these rescue horses in these fields so what is up with that?
And then there is the chatter between some of this crew on Facebook after they read things here and comment. And they do things LOL like refer to “that blogger” and “everyone who thinks they are a writer”. (Oh honies, silly youse gals, I am a writer)
Yes, if I perceive something as a threat, harassment, or anything else I will indeed publish the name, e-mail addy and I.P. address publicly. Duh. It’s my blog and maybe in the further reaches of Chester County bullying and harassment is ok, but not where I live. And I want it to be clear who is saying what. This is all something very ordinary, and if they were talking to a reporter in traditional media do they seriously think they would all be unnamed sources? And who the heck is making them verbally regurgitate all over the Internet?
I said it before, will repeat it again: if everyone is on the up and up and all these horses have a proper paper trail in and OUT of state – if they all have tattoos that match those coggins things (never knew what that was until this started), if all the prospective homes for these horses have been properly vetted like they do for other animal rescues, if ALL the vet records are made available for prospective families and those who have already adopted horses, why fuss? If it is all on the up and up, no worries necessary, right?
But is all the right stuff happening or just more questions and layers and layers of innuendo and comments I sure as hell didn’t seek out? And there are so many questions now that yes, the traditional media is looking at all of this as I understand it. Apparently what happens to horse once they leave race tracks is somewhat of a hot button topic across the country, isn’t it?
Also at issue here for me is what this group called LAPS actually does. After all if they actually did their job would there be so many darn comments on horse rescue???? And what about this Barbara Luna and Turning for Home?? Of all people, she can explain what the heck is going on. She can definitively state what horse went where, what monies went with, what records went with and one would also think she would know the ultimate destination of these large, expensive animals, right?
Lurking media? Please cover this and settle this issue once and for all. I am tired of much ado about horse rescue. And yes, if I think of something as being menacing, threatening, or harassing, I will post a comment in its entirety including e-mail and IP addresses. Truthfully I can do that with ANY comment.
(To avoid any belly aching about the screen shots from Facebook, if you don’t have your privacy settings on and the little globe is showing, it means you are showing these posts to the world. )
If nothing bad is happening, then the record will be corrected, but posturing is not proof is it? So when this gets back to being about the horses, let me know ok?
At the end of the day people, I did not originate this topic. It was out there with plenty of stuff publicly available. But hey, I am just a ninny, right? So what do I know?
I see this as a made for Lifetime TV Moment of Truth Movie some day there is so much yackety yak…..
And here I thought horsegate would calm down. Apparently not. It is kinda like groundhog day…except with horses.
It appears that the mysterious Craigslist ads of a few weeks ago have disappeared. But a techno geek non horse loving source sent me a link to check out: http://offthetrackrescue.tumblr.com/
Ahhh yes, who knew? They have yet another website. So I took a quick gander and have more (or more of the same) questions for the owner Jessica Troxell Basciano regarding Off The Track Thoroughbred Rescue of which she is owner/head/president/grand poobah…and Barbara Luna too (she is the one who supplies the horses to OTTR from the non-profit she works for called Turning for Home. )
I truly so want to have a comfort level with this because in theory it is a wonderful idea, yet every time I might reach a comfort level something else pops up, doesn’t it?
So there is this tumblr page right? I have a couple of questions.
First there is the “donate” word/tab again. Is Off The Track Thoroughbred Rescue a 501(c)(3) or a 501(c)(4) within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania? I can’t find anything can any of you? So is there an official non-profit status? Does this rescue even have a charter or any kind of incorporation documents? As per the helpful multi-state filing website I found, does this Off The Track Thoroughbred Rescue do any of what Pennsylvania requires? OR if they are in fact NOT a true non-profit and they are soliciting donations are they doing that disclosure? If it is NOT a non-profit, is it a LLC, sole proprietorship or what? Horses are big critters and they have a lot of expenses, so one would think someone owning a business that does this kind of thing would want some sort of protection for themselves, right? It’s a big financial risk at a minimum, right?
I found this regarding donations to organizations that are NOT non-profit:
The “donations” will be considered income and you will not be able to offer a tax deduction to those donors. The other issue is whether certain states where you solicit donations will require a registration before doing so. This is a state by state analysis……There are no specific prohibitions or regulations about accepting monetary contributions, but you should be careful to advise any potential “donors” that you are not a registered non-profit and therefore their contribution is not tax deductible. You of course could not make any misrepresentations. It would simply be business income.
Also, be careful with your accounting. Donations aren’t necessarily immediately final, as in a sale. If you received a large amount of donations you might want to hold a certain amount in reserve in case of an issue, in which case you might have to refund it.
Then there is the post where she (I presume it is this Jessica posting herself on tumblr?) says they have farms in Glenmoore and Phoenixville? Where in Phoenixville? I thought the other location was in Oxford, PA? So are there
three locations now? Or is this like many other rescues where critters are fostered in multiple locations due to overflow?
And this site is still used given the Christmas Eve posting. And again, I am trying to be fair, but it is VERY hard.
Rescue is a tough business, but I know the ones that I know which have non-profit statuses have pretty strict guidelines. And they get inspected a lot too. Is it LAPS that inspects horse rescues in these parts for the state, or does the state conduct their own inspections? Is this a non-profit or a for profit business and if it is for profit does that work with the whole concept of rescue? Does anyone know of other animal rescues that are actually for profit or have no non profit statuses? Or does Off The Track Thoroughbred Rescue since I can’t find a non-profit status fall somehow under the umbrella of Turning For Home?
And on a super positive note, I found this really cool blog about thoroughbred rescue – I think it is out of Massachusetts called Off-Track Thoroughbreds
So to finish up, most of my questions remain over how a rescue can operate if it is NOT a non-profit? (Note I have not found anything illegal about that so I am not implying that at all.)
If it is NOT a non-profit and is in fact FOR profit is there an actual corporation in addition to the fictitious name? If people are donating to something that is NOT a non-profit how does that work? If it is a corporation is there a board of directors? If they are applying to become a non-profit is there a proposed board of directors or trustees or whatever?
I am still thinking at the end of the day that Jessica’s heart is in the right place for rescue, but if she is overwhelmed she should let the horse community know. That way they can help, not criticize or whisper, right?
I am not one of the horse rescue haters. I merely have questions. Once all the questions are answered there will be no more posts asking questions. I do think some of the answers need to come from Barbara Luna who distributes the horses to horse rescues don’t you?
A final note is a gentle reminder for the more shall we say spirited commenters. I am allowed to exercise my First Amendment Rights, am allowed to ask questions. I don’t suffer fools lightly and don’t cotton to threats or harassment. And oh yes, a lot of media and other assorted types read this blog.
You know something? I am not particularly naïve. Even if I do want to believe in the goodness of mankind sometimes. And I have a lot of friends involved in animal rescue. I have seen the good, the bad, and the very ugly when it comes to that. And I have known all along the bigger the animal the nastier it can get.
When it comes to horse country out here I am an ausländer. I don’t own horses, don’t ride any more. I do love horses. I find them magnificent and regal, which is why I love to photograph them.
I am one of those people who doesn’t patronize those people in cities like Philadelphia and New York City who have the carriage ride companies because I have never seen a horse hitched up to one of those rigs that looks happy and I want to throw up every time an abuse case linked to that part of the tourism industry surfaces. I also don’t go to race tracks. No offense, I find them seedy. I find almost anything having to do with gambling seedy and déclassé. Different strokes for different folks, but not my cup of tea.
When it comes to horses, I like to do things like watch dressage and polo. And my friends’ kids doing pony club and things like Devon. I also think carriaging is cool. Growing up, we had a neighbor who was a carriager, and I loved looking at all his carriages, carts, and even sleighs in his barn.
I think given ALL the comments some part of the system of horse rescue in Chester County is broken. And as a result I am calling upon the Chester County SPCA, LAPS, ASPCA, and The Humane Society to do whatever they have to do to check this out thoroughly and put this issue to rest.
And I don’t mean polite let’s have tea and check out horse rescues, I mean inspect them, look at paperwork, match paperwork up to horses, any kind of identifying marks horses might have (someone said they can be tattooed or microchipped?), and treat it like the rescues I know more about which are dog rescues. Put them through their paces. People with nothing to hide, won’t mind, will they? They will understand, won’t they as it is about the welfare of the animals, right? Dog rescues go out and check out potential forever homes and often do follow up once a dog is adopted out, does this happen with horse rescue? It should if it doesn’t.
I get that rescue is an often ugly business and again I feel the the bigger the animal the uglier it gets.
The volume of comments on this stuff has blown me away. But I am just a blogger who found something weird and asked some questions. I literally do not have a horse in this race.
But what I don’t understand (among other things) why there is a thing called Large Animal Protection if they aren’t doing any protecting? It’s their job, they have the jurisdiction, it’s their raison d’être, yes? They receive funding to not muck about, yes?
I am not going to go out and inspect barns, I am not going to rescue a horse. I might not know all the lingo but I know what an abused or miscared for animal looks like and I know what filth looks like. But I am not the authorities. So leaving comments on a blog post are just that: leaving comments.
What should you do if you have proof something is a non-profit and they are not? Call the State Charities inspectors and complain. Here are the numbers: 717-783-1720 or 800-732-0999. What should you do if someone is abusing an animal? Call any of the groups I have referenced above. And call the media. Go to the police. Let professionals handle it.
If you people are seeing things that are wrong, it won’t stop unless people come forward. On their own. I believe some of the people who have left comments are trying to do just that and God bless them for it. Sometimes the courage of convictions comes at personal cost, especially when something is of a sensitive, difficult, or emotionally charged nature. And when it comes to animal rescue issues, I find them often as emotionally loaded as issues involving children.
My curiousity with this began with odd Craigslist postings that continue to go up every day. I don’t know who you are who is doing this, but I think you need to contact authorities or media. Or both. You wanted attention? You got it, now take the other step.
I want to have faith in mankind this Christmas season, and animals that give us unconditional love and companionship should be protected. If you want to get all religious on me, that is indeed what Jesus would do. Period.