have you seen “joey”?


This is Joey. He is a five-year old shibu inu. He is from Malvern over near Malvern Prep but got out for the first and only time March 28 when a door blew open. He has been seen as far away as Hershey’s Mill to Boot Road to Airport Road to Morstein, Collegeview and so on.

His owners know he is alive and his mom works at Canine Creature Comforts. He was seen yesterday around Nottingham Road.

He is scared out of his wits. He looks like a fox. Please help him come home. Call owners if you see him and if you get him in a fenced in back yard please call owners – BUT use caution when approaching because he is scared and skittish.



mixed emotions


I heard from Pat Biswanger. She has been elected the new President of the Board of the Chester County SPCA. I am very proud of my friend. Hope she doesn’t live to regret this, but I think she will do a good job.

However, and this is the mixed emotions of it all, Howard Nelson has been elected Board Vice President. I honestly feel and my opinion is this is a huge mistake. I don’t see him as a victory for homeless animals. I said before that Howard should have turned this down if he really wants people to believe the Howard from the PASPCA is not the Howard at the CCSPCA. I still feel that way and Howard, it is never too late to put ego aside and do the right thing.

This is Chester County’s shelter. I believe that the board leadership should have been split between Chester County and Delaware County as long as there is the contract, after that who knows?

And because it is Chester County’s shelter and they take donations from Chester County residents and the shelter is physically located in Chester County, I believe that Chester County should always be represented in board leadership. Now it is not, and I am sorry but I do NOT think that is right.

I have no problem with a general board composition that includes people who don’t necessarily live in Chester County who are animal advocates or professionals helpful to the shelter, but I do think because it is Chester County’s shelter that Chester County should always be part of board leadership.

Pat will do a good job. I simply have little faith in what’s his name given his past with the PASPCA.

But the horse is out of the barn.

I found this op-ed today and I would like to share it as it reminded me what was important (the animals, not the personalities):

Chester County needs to focus on animals by Joe Mason The Intellegencer

There is a huge issue going on at the Chester County SPCA.

From what I’ve read and from what I’ve been told, it’s the staff against the volunteers.

I don’t know who is going to win, but I can tell you now who is going to lose.

The animals.

The shelter staff has undergone a lot of changes over the past few months….Today, the SPCA is electing its new board president, and according to a letter I received that was mailed to the board, this vote goes a long way in deciding how many rescues will work with the shelter……I don’t care if the people who work at the SPCA hate the volunteers and rescues, and vice versa. That’s not important.

The entire reason for everyone being there is to make sure the animals get in, stay comfortable while they’re there, and get into a home or foster home as soon as possible.

It’s why the shelter is there.

It’s why the board is there.

It’s why the employees are there.

It’s why the volunteers are there.

And it’s why rescues are there.

So forget egos, forget agendas, forget rivalries and do whatever it takes to get everyone working together to place dogs and cats in situations where they can be loved and spoiled.

The last thing we need is animals not getting every chance at being saved because of a little bickering.

Good luck Pat. You are going to need it and a big bottle of ibuprofen for headaches as I am thinking chairing this board will be like herding cats. And speaking of cats, I might be a dogs rule kind of gal, but I think cats need more representation at CCSPCA.



New SPCA board president says shelter can rebound


on dog fights

ccspca pizapI wasn’t going to post again about the Chester County SPCA, but I am. Many feel the shelter is imploding and the board has board elections I think this evening.

Let me state at the beginning that although Delaware County is part of this board, this is Chester County’s shelter.  Leadership there should come from it’s home county ideally but a compromise point is top leadership split – one Delaware County board member, on Chester County board member. As in President/Vice President.

Let me also mention that ill fated land deal involving outgoing board president, Conrad Muhly. It is the opinion of many that it is wrong, right? Has this topic been swept under the rug? Or is the Embreeville issue resolved?

And can we say that the Chester County SPCA should learn from the mistakes of Devon Horse Show?

Devon Horse Show chairman resigns amid development debate

By Tricia L. Nadolny, Inquirer Staff Writer
Posted: March 03, 2014

EASTTOWN The chairman of the Devon Horse Show has resigned, four months after board members at the prestigious Main Line institution challenged what some said was his undisclosed role in a proposal to build a high-end retail center and hotel beside the fairgrounds.

Wade McDevitt, whose grandfather was one of the show’s founders and who in many ways grew up on its grounds, said he stepped down to spend more time with his family. The plan he had backed to build what could be Devon’s first taste of a town center – a project in which his family stood to profit – has stalled…McDevitt’s resignation as chairman amounts to a shake-up at the venerable organization, whose county fair and internationally renowned equestrian events are run by hundreds of well-to-do volunteers and draw a refined crowd. A new chairman has not been selected…..

Last week, the horse show’s newly hired lawyer, William Lamb, declined to comment on whether McDevitt’s decision to step down was connected to allegations made in November that his dealings amounted to a conflict of interest. McDevitt remains a member of the show’s board. Lamb said there were still unresolved issues related to McDevitt’s involvement in the development, but declined to elaborate, adding that he hoped to have an “amicable resolution” soon.

McDevitt’s roots at Urban Outfitters, as at the horse show, run deep.

His wife, Wendy McDevitt, is an executive of Urban Outfitters – president of Terrain, one of the brands that hoped to open a store at the Devon site – and also a horse show board member. Her brother, Scott Belair, is on Urban Outfitters’ board of directors and was one of its founders.

Are there parallels here that can be drawn regarding the above?

I am not here to do anything other than point out the obvious: if Conrad Muhly truly loves the Chester County SPCA, it is time for him quite simply to put ego aside and leave the party?  He might be going off the board leadership role, but shouldn’t he just leave the party for now?

But then there is the rest of it, including but not limited to the question of the suitability of Howard Nelson isn’t there? Maybe he has the chops of running large shelters, but he has a certain irrefutable past when it comes to animal rescues, doesn’t he? Including way back to his days at the Washington DC Humane Society? (he has his own website with his bio and his own fan page on Facebook)

Did he come to the party courtesy of now fellow board member Marsha Perelman?  She has publicly been his champion for years in the media hasn’t she?

I mean no disrespect to Ms. Marsha because she loves animals so very much, but WHY does she animal-related non-profit hop SO much? First she was Main Line Animal Rescue’s fairy godmother and then she just wasn’t any longer…..and then she was with the ASPCA in NYC until one day she was a line item in a May 29, 2013 Page Six of the New York Post (gossip column) where they said she was no longer part of the ASPCA…..then September 2013 I saw a press release stating she was on the board of directors of the Humane Society of the USA……one busy lady, eh?

As a lay person doesn’t this whole Chester County SPCA thing as much as anything else seems to be a lot of personality conflicts? Sort of like when the PASPCA went totally cuckoo for cocoa puffs?

PSPCA votes to accept director’s resignation

Posted: February 20, 2009

The short and controversial reign of Howard Nelson, chief executive of the Pennsylvania SPCA, officially came to an end yesterday.

In a unanimous vote, the 14-person PSPCA board accepted Nelson’s resignation, effective immediately. Nelson, 45, formerly head of the Washington Humane Society, joined PSPCA in March 2007……Nelson, who was paid $189,000 a year, will receive a severance package. The terms were not disclosed….Nelson would not comment, and his attorney could not be reached.

…..With employees, Nelson was known to have a confrontational management style and a volatile temper.

Former humane officer Terry Bohn critized Nelson last night, saying that he had refused to carry out a raid at a farm because no media were present.

Marsha Perelman, a member of the Governor’s Dog Law Advisory Board, defended Nelson, saying he “may have embarrassed authorities who hadn’t been doing their jobs for so many years and had looked other way.”


So let us talk about other things. The new executive director has resigned, correct? She was brought forward in part by Howard Nelson, correct? She was part of the development staff under him at PASPCA, right? She resigned shortly after the police were called to play bouncer the first time, didn’t she? Now didn’t someone else resign after the latest and most recent incident involving the police being called to play bouncer at the Chester County SPCA?  But she is still there, right? So will they bring this woman back to the executive director role or maybe she will “un-resign” depending on how the board leadership elections go?

And what about the whole using West Goshen police force like bouncers? I don’t think the job of taxpayer funded local police forces should include playing bouncers to a local non-profit, do you? Have any residents in West Goshen gone to that township to ask what is up? I can’t believe that happened once, let alone twice, can you? Has this happened in the past too? It is genuinely a little cray-cray don’t you think?

(Winston the late , great ESS who came from the Chester County SPCA many moons ago)

(Winston the late , great ESS who came from the Chester County SPCA many moons ago)

Look, I know people in rescue but I am not involved in rescue but I have rescued animals. So maybe people are going to be critical of this still sort of newbie to Chester County for having opinions about the Chester County SPCA, but if I did not care, I would not ask questions.  And I will state again that one of my best rescue dogs, the late great Winston came from Chester County SPCA.

The Chester County SPCA began it’s missteps in many ways over the past few years and they can’t unring any of those bells, they can only move forward.  But should moving forward involve the former irrefutably controversial head of the PASPCA?

The (Scary) Truth About Cats and Dogs

It’s been four months since the PSPCA took over the city’s animal shelter system. It’s failing.

By Tara Murtha Philadelphia Weekly

It wasn’t long ago that the Hunting Park shelter was the scene of some very crude animal crimes. Back in 2002, PSPCA, then in charge of animal control, walked away from the contract over money and the pit bull policy (Philly refused to outlaw the breed, and PSPCA’s policy was to euthanize them). The Philadelphia Department of Public Health was then forced to create and staff a new animal control organization, Philadelphia Animal Care and Control Association (PACCA), as a subdivision of itself; by all accounts, it was staffed with many bad-apple nepotism hires. Under this initial administration of PACCA, the shelter was a grisly murder mill. It remained a self-contained catastrophe until 2004, when the Daily NewsStu Bykofsky wrote a five-part exposé.

Bykofsky’s gut-wrenching series described dogs and cats swung into cages by their legs or necks as administrators chomped on cigars; one animal after another being killed within minutes of arrival; and starving dogs hosed down in their cages….

Meanwhile, in 2007, PSPCA named Howard Nelson (off a stint as executive director of the Washington Humane Society but formerly best known as a high-level Fannie Mae exec) as its new CEO. Nelson spent the next year waging a take-no-prisoners war for the animal control contract—a mere $2.9 million feather in PSPCA’s $33 million cap. (PSPCA is a statewide nonprofit organization, unconnected to other SPCAs and not overseen by another organization.)

During Nelson’s pursuit of the contract, PSPCA began to signal breakdown. Two longtime board members resigned within a few months of one another, each citing Nelson as a contributing factor (attorney Richard Elliott cited Nelson’s “inability to concede human fallibility”). Allegations of inhumane euthanasia methods sparked investigative reports. Nelson was caught lying about the number of humane officers in the state. Lawsuits popped up concerning the legality of some of PSPCA’s cruelty raids.

By late 2008, the epic battle between PACCA and PSPCA for the Philly contract climaxed: Secret alliances were forged, backstabbing ensued and kited statistics were floated. It was the stuff of scandal junkie dreams.

The battle ended on Dec. 1, when PSPCA was awarded the contract for a six-month term by the Health Department. PACCA disbanded and employees scattered, but many volunteers and rescue partners stayed in animal control, more concerned with saving animals than with political turmoil…..Then, less than two months into the six-month contract, Nelson vanished. Soon after posting PSPCA’s first month’s “save rate” stats and amid controversy elsewhere in the state—there was community outrage over a shelter shut down in Monroe County, the Pocono Record published reports alleging abuse of authority and the board was reportedly pressuring Nelson to answer “certain questions”—he suddenly resigned via email on Feb. 11, citing health concerns and “an environment no longer conducive to my success or the success of the organization.”


You have to admire Howard Nelson for his tenacity.  He is much like a cat with proverbial nine lives the way he survives although he does it Doggy Style, right? However, if this leopard has indeed changed his spots, wouldn’t you think the leopard wouldn’t seek a leadership role on the board of the Chester County SPCA and instead go about proving himself to be worthy of such leadership?  It’s just a thought.

But in the midst of all this, the Chester County SPCA has gotten some terrific new board members like Patricia Biswanger who are now being swept up in the verbal poop wars.

You want to know what kind of person Pat is? Read this:

Lawyer aims to strengthen families Patricia Sons Biswanger brings survival instincts to a Children and Youth Services advisory panel. MILESTONES

Posted: December 15, 2002

Patricia Sons Biswanger remembers when her family was so poor all she had for shoes was a pair of 29-cent rubber flip-flops.

Despite that, her mother never doubted that she and her brother and two sisters would go to college.

Biswanger, 46, a Philadelphia lawyer who lives in Haverford Township, is bringing her legal skills and commitment to family to the Children and Youth Services of Delaware County Advisory Committee.

“I think family is the most critical element to any one person’s survival, so anything I can do to strengthen or reinforce that element, I want to do,” she said….

Born in Havertown, Bis-wanger grew up in Yardley. She was 12 and the oldest of four children when her father died at age 38 of Hodgkins’ disease.

Biswanger said times were tough for her mother, since deceased, who had never worked during her marriage and now had to support the family. They had little money – so little that Biswanger had to put off the first day of school in eighth grade until her mother, Mary Bernadette Sons, cashed her paycheck to buy her daughter a pair of shoes.

Eventually, the family made its way back to Havertown, and Biswanger was able to put herself through the University of Pennsylvania by working three jobs and taking out student loans.

After marriage and a brief stint in the travel business, Biswanger, whose children were 2 and 6 at the time, started at Penn Law School when she was 34.


Pat Biswanger is a friend, and yes I will defend her here. I am trying to be objective and because she is a friend it is hard.  I will tell you we have been unable to speak as often since she went on the board of the Chester County SPCA.   I don’t want her put in a questionable spot by being my friend since my critics think I have some nerve writing about the Chester County SPCA.

But I am proud to be her friend.  Do we agree with every little move each one of us makes? No. We are individuals and human beings not Stepford Wives. This is a woman who also gave up her time in her life to drive me to radiation for seven weeks with other friends when I was going through breast cancer treatment.

If you want to object to her because she is from Delaware County and not Chester, fine. But don’t throw her under the bus with only part of a very large and involved story that has nothing to do with her devotion to homeless animals or her many other capabilities. Truthfully, animal lovers are lucky, yes lucky that someone like her is on the board.

She hasn’t been a catalyst in the land deal at Embreeville has she? She won’t stand to have personal gain from the Embreeville land deal will she? And she didn’t have anything to do with the nonsense at the PASPCA either, did she? Don’t exhibit irresponsible activism.

Choose wisely and for the best advocacy of the animals all you people at the Chester County SPCA.  Be part of solutions, not further problems.

I do believe board leadership in part has to be from Chester County.  My pick would be someone like Bill Bock.  He gets it, he is smart, he is above reproach. I also think Bud Haly would be a good choice in leadership.  Or even that Steve Bazil guy or Guy Donatelli, except I do not believe given political ties Donatelli would allow his name to move forward.  I also know and respect Tom Hickey, but I have no idea if he would be interested in leadership given his state-wide involvement on behalf of dogs. The point is, there is choice.

However, whatever happens the  Chester County SPCA needs not to not only survive, but thrive.  Leadership should be equally split and I do believe that if you are not in Chester County or Delaware County you should sit down and not even go near leadership. It’s not right. My thought process is it is Chester County’s shelter but there is this Delaware County contract right now so I think they have to be adequately represented on both the board and board leadership.

And I am sorry but I   think that given the controversial animal welfare society/rescue past of Howard Nelson while he has experience, he might not have been the best choice for the board of the Chester County SPCA at this time. But I will say it again, if Nelson really is a different guy than the guy covered quite a bit by the media during his tumultuous tenure at the PASPCA, he will remove himself from consideration for board leadership at this time if he is even running for one of those spots.  My theory is simple: if he wants to really do it for the dogs (and cats and bunnies and guinea pigs and so on) he will prove his net worth a little longer by just being a team player, not the captain of the ship. And if he is true, he can’t blame people for their concerns.

Look I don’t have answers or an inside track. I am one week out of a major surgery and truthfully should not be bothering with any of this, so after this post I am done for a while.  But I could not sit idly by while Pat Biswanger was unfairly tainted. I can’t, and I am sorry if that upsets some people. That woman was with me at a time when I truly had to look the thought of my own mortality in the face. And unless you have faced something like breast cancer you will never get that.

Like everyone else, traditional media included, I hear so much every day about the Chester County SPCA my head swims.  And as it swims and the news and bad news and more bad news swirls I wonder as most do the following: with all the humans fighting one and other from every side, faction, and corner who is looking out for the voiceless? The animals?

Yeah, stops you cold that thought, doesn’t it?

Here is hoping the board can come together and decide positively and in the best interest of the animals.  Here is hoping everyone can stop fighting long enough to save this place.



enough chester county spca, enough

ccspca pizap

Maybe I am post -surgical cranky, but I want to hear from State Senator Andy Dinniman and others on this.

I just had a WTF moment when a friend of mine texted me to let me know that the Chester County SPCA fired her (again) today. And oh yeah, they used the West Goshen Police Department to do it.

I am about to almost use a bad word: BULLSH*T

Once you get past the whole how-do-you-fire-volunteers of it all, I am stuck with how is it the Chester County SPCA continues to use a local police force like their own private security detail?????? (And yes my friend gave me one of the badge numbers but I am not disclosing this here as it is not the officer’s fault.)

Who is paying for this??? Are taxpayers/residents of West Goshen and Chester County on the hook for this misuse of municipal resources ???

I am completely and utterly disgusted. I hope the media eats the Chester County SPCA for breakfast. I hear some of the media is already working on stories.

I mean how can you get “people and animals together” when you keep using the local police as bouncers to fire volunteers?

And I thought it was bad when they used the police the last time…but two police cars to confront a woman????? REALLY????

all aboard the crazy train at the chester county SPCA?


Ok look I won’t even pretend I know what is going on, but when sources send me this photo what am I to think? When I hear of volunteers being “fired”, and police coming to the shelter when board members are there, what am I to think? Is this how the new Executive Director comports herself? Is this how they run animal shelters Philly-style? Wasn’t she at PASPCA too?

I am NOT a volunteer of the Chester County SPCA or affiliated with them. I hate to have to mention this once wonderful organization in a negative light again. But as someone who watched the last drama over the land deal unfold, and then was so excited when State Senator Andy Dinniman came in with folks to get the shelter back in shape, I have grave concerns for the future, don’t you ?

Answer me this: when did it all become power and politics and no longer about the animals?

Oh also check out the article in The Daily Local.

I am very sad about this. Drama and nonsense could kill this shelter and I have to wonder if letting people in who some considered problematic at the PASPCA was a huge mistake?

Here is hoping someone can unravel this hot mess, right?

RIP Blue. update on missing dog alert!

I wish I had better news to share. But I just received this message from the person that asked me to post about Blue the dog in the first place. I am in tears and it is not even my dog:

Hi, not sure if you saw the post I shared, but poor Blue was found on the side of a major highway…. Broken back and not going to make it… He got to see his owner, hear her voice and die in her arms😔

RIP BLUE. People – no one likes to hit someone’s pet, but if you could slow down and be more aware of your surroundings on roads, and if you accidentally hit someone’s dog or cat and can safely pull over and call the police, please do or call them at a later time if you can’t safely pull over.

I have a dog with three legs. She has three legs because she accidentally got out when she was little before she was part of my family. If it hadn’t been for the wonderful Westtown East Goshen police, she would be dead. Again this was a case of someone hitting a dog and not stopping.

It happened to my sister as well. Only she lost her dog. I also watched it happen twice in my old neighborhood, in broad daylight, and the people did not slow down or stop – they took off.

Please, even if you can’t save the animal, at least let someone know you accidentally hit it.

bring blue home

I was asked to post this. Blue was lost Nov 30th at 4pm from French Creek in the 2400 block of Saint Peters Road. Pottstown, PA. He is a 5yr old Lab Chow mix. Please if you have seen this dog call these people ASAP!!!!

chester county s.p.c.a. news

DSC_0065The Chester County SPCA has news: New Executive Director hired!!!   Emily Simmons, formerly of PSPCA, starting Monday. Also a new Operations Manager!   her name is Danielle Ball starting Monday.

I see this as incredibly positive given the recent current events at the shelter, so I would say the new board members are taking their duties seriously.

I look forward to posting MORE good news. And no, that is not a rescued chicken. It is merely a chicken I photographed recently. We all know I have chicken issues….

Chesco SPCA board to host first meeting

Posted:  10/27/13, 10:26 PM EDT

By KENDAL GAPINSKI, kgapinski@dailylocal.com

With 16 new members and a hefty list of accusations and controversies to address, the new Chester County SCPA board will be holding its first meeting today.

One new board member said that change has already started at the CCSPCA and more will be coming soon.

According to Tom Hickey Sr., a new board member, the shelter “has a lot of problems” and the new board will be looking at ways to solve them. Already this past week, Hickey said the shelter has hired a new kennel manager, one of many changes he’s hoping to bring.

“I believe we have an obligation that we have to do everything possible to protect the animals,” said Hickey.





chester county spca continues to be in the news…

ccspcaI mean what can I say?  I am incredulous. While we sat in court, another damning article came out on the Chester County SPCA.  Now every time an article comes out, the CCPCA and supporters cry foul.  Only thing is this reporter always does her homework.

And when I was talking about the Chester County SPCA not sending anyone to the Argus and Fiona case in court the past two days (my personal opinion is they are afraid they will be questioned by reporters), this woman named Kris Keffer from York of all places rolled up on this blog in a comment and says how I am unprofessional and have a vendetta against the Chester County SPCA. Apparently she has lots to do with the Chester County SPCA.

I don’t know how she would judge from professional, her opinions on my blogging talents are par for the course when people disagree with my perspective, but I am not going to have someone tell me I have a vendetta against the Chester County SPCA.  One of my best dogs ever came from the Chester County SPCA.

I am appalled and disturbed and quite frankly upset at all the bad things that keep getting unearthed about an organization I never, ever thought would have these issues.  But they do.

My opinion (if you care) is there is a top down rottenness going on that would be solved by booting the president of the board and the board members he controls, getting the staff hired that they need, and getting back the good volunteers who felt they had to leave.

I also feel if the supporters of the SPCA don’t get a grip and deal with these issues a beloved institution may eventually cease to exist and how will that serve homeless pets and the community?  Deal with the issues, quit saying they don’t exist.  If they didn’t exist there would be nothing for the media to report on!

I am not out there personally destroying the Chester County SPCA but even I have heard things the past year that were most distressing.  And that freaks me out because you can’t help but worry what would they do if they picked up your pet given what is going on?

And the part-time veterinarian stuff leaves me distinctly uncomfortable.  Chester County is literally blessed with some of the best veterinarians in the country. Maybe if the SPCA was run a little differently they could attract some of these vets?

Mari Schaeffer is a very fine reporter and an outstanding human being.  She is doing her job reporting the news.  It’s a damn shame no one at the Chester County SPCA can apparently do theirs right now. This article is profoundly disturbing.  And it is just not possible that all of this is just “made up”.

Any board member that won’t step up, should step off the board.  And that includes Conrad Muhly.

Here is Mari’s article (please go to Philly.com and read whole thing – there are also photos):

Treatment at Chesco SPCA raises questions

Mari A. Schaefer, Inquirer Staff Writer  Posted: Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Current and former staff and volunteers and a board member at the Chester  County SPCA said recently that they had reported mistreatment and neglect of  animals to shelter officials, but that their accounts were ignored or not  addressed seriously.

Conrad Muhly, the board president, and other board members declined requests  for comment on the allegations.

The shelter has defended its performance. “Our staff and volunteers will  continue to devote all our efforts to the compassionate care of the animals in  our open-access shelter, where no animal in need is turned away,” SPCA spokesman  Richard Britton wrote in an e-mailed statement…..In June, Mona, a bulldog mix prone to painful ear infections that became  worse while at the shelter, was euthanized after she tired to bite a staff  member, said Leslie Celia, a former volunteer.

Last year, a pit bull puppy was found to be sick, and a “huge amount of  blood” was seen in her wire cage. The staff, concerned the dog had parvovirus,  recommended the dog receive outside care and be monitored overnight. The memo  was unclear as to whether the dog received veterinary care on the night in  question.

“The dog was left at the shelter alone and died that night,” a letter from  staff members to the board said.

Petey, a shelter ambassador with the “Dogs on Tour” program, became sick with  worms and was isolated in a feces-infested quarantine room for more than three  weeks. With little human interaction, he was labeled aggressive and euthanized,  volunteer Kenneth Schmidt wrote in a letter to the board last year.




justice for argus & fiona: pilotti trial day 1

argus and fiona

I now understand why reporters say sometimes what they see in a court room haunts them.  I will be haunted a long time by the crime scene photos which were shown of the slain Bernese Mountain Dog puppies Argus & Fiona.

The  scene photos (I am not a police officer so I don’t know what  to call them), were not intentionally gruesome, they were what they were. (We saw a photo of the shotgun too.  It was not one that repeats, either, which means the buck shot had to deliberately reloaded, correct?) There seemed to be some sort of quiet sidebar conversation as in jury and audience could not hear) before the audience, judge, and jury saw the photos.  I am thinking it had to do with the photos – but I don’t know for sure.

The photos – Argus lay there on the ground like he was shot in mid-flight.  He seemed to be facing away from us.  Then there was the photo of the female puppy Fiona. This photo made me cry (several things made me tear up this afternoon- so much was so hard to hear)  it was so heart and gut wrenchingly awful.  Fiona was curled in a semi fetal position staring at the camera with lifeless eyes. That is the photo I will see in my head for a long time it is so awful.

But back to the beginning.  Three papers were there: Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily Local and Brandywine News Media.  There were Argus and Fiona friends and family and supporters on one side and Gabe Pilotti had a mish mosh of people on his side.  I never saw the man in person before today so I have no way of knowing who was family and who might have been church folk. I will note that whomever they are had minor children with them, who were in the room when the photos of the shot up dogs were displayed.  Not to judge, but would you have wanted your children to see that? The smiling Pilotti from the mug shot was not present today.

Ramsey, Pilotti’s attorney referred to a “media campaign” over this issue.  He seemed to make a lot of referrals to the Justice for Argus and Fiona Facebook Page and obliquely this blog (or in my opinion that is what it was) like we were all bad people for talking about this.  Judge Nagle seemed to shut this commentary down on several occasions as being somewhat irrelevant to the case at hand.

Pilotti’s attorney was somewhat brutal with the Bocks.  But that is a defense attorney doing their job I suppose.  I do think the defense attorney was unnecessarily hard on Mary Bock in particular – asked her something like did she have remorse over the whole incident.  My personal opinion was that asking something like that was gratuitously nasty.  She was practically in tears having to relive parts of that awful day as it was.

Pilotti’s attorney seemed to make a big deal out of these neighbors of Pilotti’s that the Bocks used to be friendly with – people named Dallas and Kelley Definbaugh.  I wonder, are those the people holding Pilotti’s gun?  Anyway, it is not like it is some dirty secret.  The couples used to be friendly, more from the wives knowing each other and kids being in same sections of classes at school.  But that changed. The kids moved on into different groups and classes at school and the wives don’t hang out any more.  So what?  Do you keep in close contact with people with whom you no longer share any meaningful commonality? I don’t.

I wouldn’t know the Definbaugh people if I fell on them, and am just getting to know the Bocks, so I can only go with my gut.  I like the Bocks.  They are honorable people who experienced something so horrible.  And when you see the photos of those dead puppies from that day and hear about how they were moved in a front end loader or a tractor or something to the township building the day they were shot, well let me tell you, you get a much more clear picture of how these people have suffered.

Remember this news report?

I also did not get why Pilotti’s attorney kept bringing up a letter that Mary Bock wrote to her neighbors after her dogs were shot. I mean get real, there are tons of kids out there and tons of people with dogs.  If she wanted to tell her neighbors is that so wrong?

And Pilotti’s attorney wants to make a big deal out of this blog?  I did not drive his client to shoot those dogs.  And I am not condoning violence against his client, only like hundreds of others out there hoping for justice and a strengthening of Pennsylvania dog laws.

Today we heard from Officer Russell from West Vincent Police Department.  He was the first on the scene and apparently present later when Pilotti was interviewed by police. He seems like a totally honorable and stand up guy.  He also seems to be some sort of authority on fire arms and he spoke with some intelligence about the gun used – a 20 gauge single shot non repeating shot-gun with 9 pellet buck shot if I have it correctly.

Officer Russell recounted that fateful February day calmly with some degree of detail. He remarked that at the time (as in day of shooting) he found Pilotti’s answers “vague”. (his verbiage) . He reported that on the day of the shooting in front of the Police Chief he asked Pilotti for a written statement to assist in the investigation. He stated that Pilotti in his opinion seemed hesitant to do so, but eventually went back to his garage and sat down and compiled a “list”. Officer Russell also described seeing the dogs.  He reported that Argus took a fairly direct hit to the head and the dog’s head was “kind of blown apart.” He described Fiona’s position (that I saw in the photos) and the blood coming out of her mouth and I believe he said on her paws.  I will admit the photo of her so disturbed me that I could not get past the quasi fetal position and lifeless eyes staring at the camera.

District Attorney Tom Hogan appeared in court to watch for a while at approximately 3:45 p.m.  That made people sit up and take notice – he is a busy guy so you know he can’t audit every court proceeding.  I was thankful for his presence.

I stayed until just before the defense was going to cross-examine Officer Russell.  People in the court room said that got out of hand.  I remember before I left Officer Russell stating that they wanted to talk to Pilotti again because “something did not seem right.”

Pilotti’s attorney at one point referred to when Pilotti had shot dogs before, but West Vincent locals told me that those dogs were shot on a neighbors property because the neighbor’s animals were being mauled and is that not the truth?  So that was something different from when Argus and Fiona were shot, huh?

And I have to ask (bearing in mind my limited knowledge of buck shot) but if  Argus and Fiona were actually pursuing sheep why is it the audience and jury didn’t hear about injured sheep? Or see photos of bloodied sheep or dead sheep? I ask because as buck shot was explained today to everyone in that courtroom it sort of spreads or sprays out, right?

Watching the face of the jury all afternoon was quite interesting.  That is all I will say on that.

Court continues tomorrow at the Criminal Justice Center in Downtown West Chester, PA.  I strongly urge dog lovers to attend if possible. The Bock family and the memory of these puppies deserve our support in a peaceful way as an extended community.  It is a public proceeding and the courtroom is open, not closed. You can go to all or part of tomorrow.  Parking is not expensive in the new garage, either. You just park, go through the court screening and ask to be directed to Judge Nagle’s court (7th floor room 8 off the top of my head)

Today was deeply disturbing and very emotional. But I am glad I went. It makes me even more resolute than ever that dog laws need to change.

And here is some of the media coverage:

Trial begins for 73-year-old accused of killing neighbor’s dogs
Mari A. Schaefer, Inquirer Staff Writer 

Posted: Monday, September 9, 2013, 4:54 PM

In a case that outraged animal-rights activists and generated national  attention, a trial began Monday for a Chester County man charged with killing  his neighbor’s dogs because he believed they posed a threat to his sheep.

Gabriel Pilotti, 73, of Chester Springs, was charged with cruelty to animals  for shooting the two 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….In his opening statement, Kevin Pierce, assistant district attorney said  Pilotti willfully and maliciously killed the two dogs in cold blood and then  left a voice message for a neighbor bragging about the incident……Argus was shot in the head as he  trotted up toward Pilotti and that Fiona was shot as she ran away. Pilotti did  not try to yell at the dogs or chase them away with a broom, he said.

“He choose to go to the most extreme measure first,” said Pierce.

Also noteworthy?  The Chester County SPCA which is currently under fire in Chester County and beyond did NOT bother to show up today.  I found that extraordinarily cowardly.  They should have put the other stuff aside and shown up for the dogs.  Good thing no one was depending on them for anything.

Here is the Daily Local:

Daily Local: Motives differ as trial starts in dog shooting case

WEST CHESTER – Gabriel Pilotti, the 73-year-old West Vincent resident on trial for shooting two dogs that wandered onto his property, was portrayed in two different lights Monday as his case opened in the Chester County Justice Center.

To the prosecutor, Pilotti was a trigger happy man who shot first and asked no questions – taking the matter of dogs in his pasture to the “most extreme measure” by killing the two dogs without provocation.

“This is a simple case of a cold blooded killing of two family pets,” Assistant District Attorney Kevin Pierce told the nine women and three men on the jury in Senior Judge Ronald Nagle’s courtroom. He said the defendant “mowed down” one of the dogs as he “moseyed” toward him, and then reloaded his shotgun and shot and killed the second, younger dog as it ran from the yard.

woof! more drama out of chester county SPCA


This sweet pup has nothing to do with the drama at the CCSPCA. This pup is just a reminder about WHAT it is the CCSPCA is supposed to be about….

Sigh….another in depth article about the issues regarding the Chester County SPCA today.

Planned land sale raises questions for Chester SPCA board
 Mari A. Schaefer, Inquirer Staff Writer  Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Two years after the Chester County SPCA turned down an offer to sell 20 acres of  the nonprofit’s land to West Bradford Township for a public park, the shelter’s  board has agreed to sell the land to a real estate partnership in which board  president Conrad Muhly is a principal….

Muhly is a principal member in Embreeville Redevelopment, a limited partnership that has an agreement of sale to purchase the CCSPCA’s unused acreage at West Strasburg Road and Shagbark Drive.

The land abuts the 245-acre Embreeville State Hospital parcel that the partnership purchased from the state for $1.05 million in the spring for potential development.

Muhly declined requests for interviews but did address questions in an e-mail….

Asked why the offer was declined, Muhly said in an e-mail: “There was no official offer to purchase the property.”

As for the vote this year on the sale of the 20 acres to his partnership, Muhly stated he had recused himself.

In an e-mail obtained by The Inquirer, board treasurer Frank Sobyak told board members that the sale to the partnership “will net the shelter $300,000 for land we no longer have use for.”…. When it deeded the 20 acres to the CCSPCA in 2002, the state stipulated that it be used for “programs and services associated with the prevention of cruelty to animals” in accordance with state law.

Many thanks to reporters like Mari Schaefer who continue to follow this story.  Conrad Muhly should step down immediately. Is it just me or is his involvement in this whole land thing a conflict of interest as a CCSPCA Board Member, let alone President of said board? As a matter of fact he and any board member that are truly interested in the best interests of a non-profit shelter with a venerable history, should step aside and allow fresh faces and fresh perspectives to step in. And where is Jim Jones the Controller of the CCSPCA in all this?  Some say he should be spoken to?

Mr. Muhly was undoubtedly chosen for his board role at CCSPCA because I imagine he is a wealthy man. When you look him up on PA’s publicly searchable corporation data base  you come up with what I assume are familial construction entities and then an internet search shows something called “Terra”. Don’t know much about it, found it on his LinkedIn profile.

Now this whole issue in West Bradford stems around this  Embreeville Redevelopment, and here is their page off the searchable corporations database:


Mr. Muhly is named as a partner on the Marshallton Conservation Trust website:

Marshalltown CT

On 8/4/13 The Daily Local wrote a scathing editorial about this project:

For decades, the hundreds of acres of land that stretch between the villages of Embreeville and Romansville in West Bradford served the needs of Chester County citizens, as the location of a poorhouse, a state hospital for the developmentally disabled, and as the spot of a state police barracks.

Since the late 1980s, it has been less and less of a vibrant place, and now stands as a forlorn reminder of past uses…..the idea that the land would be the perfect place for a housing project with more than 1,000 units would be a call for a disaster.

Apparently we have the Commonwealth of PA (you know, the people who can’t seem to get their collective act together where dog laws are concerned and other things?) to thank for selling this property, and West Bradford has a page dedicated on their website to just this topic. As an aside I wonder if parts of this property might be creepy a la Pilgrim State Hospital in New York on Long Island that I took some photos of this summer.

Anyway, back to the dogs.  Seems to me that the shelter dogs and animals are not thought of in this land equation much are they?  Ironically the Treasurer of the CCSPCA mentioned in the Inquirer article and who also did not return calls was honored by the CCSPCA in June as Volunteer of the Year (see the pretty picture below?) as per the Unionville Times:

Here is hoping the Chester County SPCA can jettison all this trouble and get back to what they are about: the rescue and re-homing of neglected, abandoned animals.  This controversy in my opinion only continues to tarnish their reputation and eventually will make people want their non-profit status evaluated for any number of reasons.  And that, ladies and gentlemen, cats and dogs would be a horrible thing to have happen.

And a note to those like “birdiegirl” who like to roam around flapping their keyboards in quasi anonymous glory on websites covering this, sunshine is a bitch when it happens which is why no one can ever hide this stuff forever. Please stop running around crying fowl and actually put your energy to better use by telling the CCPSCA to get it together.  They caused this, not anyone else. And if they did their recent inspection truly and honestly, I am glad they passed.

In case you are interested, here is who the CCSPCA lists as board and staff these days:


Board of Directors

Conrad E. Muhly, President
Doug Marshall, Vice President
Frank Sobyak, Treasurer
Beth Hills, Secretary
Joe Colella
Richard M. Dluhy
Bud Haly
Kim Denise Morton
Debbie Nason-Naples, Esq.

Board Member Emeritus

Elizabeth Minor

Management Staff

Larry Dieter, VMD, Director of Veterinary Services
Robyn Freese, Business Operations Coordinator
Jim Jones, Controller
Becky Turnbull, Animal Protective Services Coordinator
Here is their mission and vision:


To promote the welfare and humane treatment of animals and to be an advocate on their behalf.


To be the recognized center for animal welfare fostering a  community that believes life should be respected and treated with  dignity.
Here is hoping they get back to both soon. Here’s hoping that the Attorney General for the Commonwealth of PA is looking into this, right?