intolerable cruelty: northumberland county

rayne1

Northumberland County was formed in 1772 from parts of Lancaster, Berks, Bedford, Cumberland, and Northampton Counties and named for the county of Northumberland in northern England. It’s pretty darn rural.

But they apparently also shoot dogs first there and ask questions later.

waynevI don’t know anyone in Northumberland County, certainly don’t know this family named McNett who just lost their dog to a trigger happy gent named Wayne Van Blargan, but I am going to post about it anyway.  The similarities between this and what happened to Argus and Fiona at the hands of Gabe Pilotti are just too creepy.

And this Van Blargan guy doesn’t even have the excuse of livestock,  he just mowed this dog down and shot her in the back from 15 feet away. No reports of the dog attacking anything or being a menace.  Just shot in the back which means much like the late great Fiona, this dog, named Rayne, was probably running away from this guy.
kids and dog

Rayne, a rescue German Shepherd, and family pet to four little children was only out 15 minutes.  You know, pretty much like Argus and Fiona?

I am sick over this.  I am tired of dogs just being shot basically for the hell of it in Pennsylvania.  Only up there in Northumberland County is truly Pennsyltucky and I am afraid if there is not a public hue and cry that the judge might not care so much.

blood trailThis poor dog doesn’t sound like she got out much and she deserved better. This poor dog triggered the outside lights at this house where this Van Blargan stays so he can’t say he did not know what he was shooting, can he?

They say charges   will be filed against Van Blargan before District Judge Richard Cashman of Milton, PA . Milton PA is 50 miles north of Harrisburg, PA.  The name of the town where this German Shepherd named Rayne was shot is called Watsontown and at the time of its formation this tiny borough was named for brothel owner John Watson. I don’t even think they have 3000 residents. It is supposed to be served by this local paper called Standard Journal but apparently this isn’t newsworthy to them.

However, other media outlets are interested and I think Argus & Fiona would like it if people paid it forward to now get Justice for Rayne.  Pilotti gets sentenced later this month in Chester County, and you know how long it took the Bock family to get there.  So if you are an animal lover, please pass this story along.

This shows the GLARING and ABSOLUTE need for better dog laws in PA.  And this is not a gun rights issue, it’s a time to deal with fools who shoot dogs issue.

While Governor Tom Corbett is wasting our taxpayer dollars running around Pennsylvania in a homophobic anti-gay marriage snit, he could actually be doing productive things like protecting our dogs in Pennsylvania.

I also urge everyone to contact Attorney General Kathleen Kane and demand her office get involved in helping protect dogs in PA.  And contact your state representatives and state senators to write the bills that could become laws to protect PA dogs.

Lynda Schlegel Culver is the state rep that serves the township (Delaware) where Rayne was shot. John R. Gordner is the State Senator. Follow the hyper links for their contact information and flood their offices with a demand for action.  And contact your own elected officials.  There are too many parents having to explain to kids why family pets who were in perfect health aren’t coming home.

Dog’s Shooting Death Leaves Family Heartbroken

Posted on: 6:00 am, September 25, 2013, by

DELAWARE TOWNSHIP – A family in Northumberland County does not understand why their neighbor went to extremes and shot and killed their dog.

The German Shepherd wandered into the neighbor’s yard near Watsontown when it was shot.

The McNett family took in Rayne a few months ago as a rescue dog.

Not until early Wednesday morning did they have a problem with their neighbor who police said shot and killed Rayne, leaving the family heartbroken.

Kristy McNett remembered the last moments she saw the family pet before Rayne was shot and killed overnight near her home in the Watsontown area.

“About 15 minutes later I heard a couple of gunshots, and I heard the dog bark. I knew it wasn’t good,” said McNett.

Rayne got loose and wandered into a neighbor’s yard…. The dog set off motion lights, and investigators said Wayne van Blargan shot twice from a distance of 15 feet, killing the McNett family pet.

“I don’t know why. I don’t know what went on in his head to make him do that,” said McNett

examiner.com : Northumberland County family left devastated after neighbor shot family dog

September 26, 2013

Kristy McNett’s affectionate German shepherd accidentally slipped out of the family home on Wednesday near the Watsontown area of Pennsylvania and was allegedly shot by the next door neighbor according to a report by wnep.com.

McNett’s family, which includes four children, are absolutely heartbroken after Rayne, a dog they rescued just a few months prior, was shot at close range from a distance in the back, from  not more than 15 feet.

Family Dog Shot, Killed Created on Wed, Sep 25, 2013  by Britt Swartzlander

guilty

argus-and-fiona

Last September 11th I was up in a hot air balloon shaped like a flag floating over Chester County.  This September 11th I spent all day in a court house.

Almost two hours ago the jury came back. Sorry for not posting sooner, but I wanted to sit and think a while.  It has been a long time since February.

It was a long afternoon as we waited in the District Attorney’s Offices – which were a real kick to see! I have to say the Chester County District Attorney’s Office personnel were pretty darn amazing.  They did not have to go out of their way to make us comfortable and they did.  They allowed us to wait in a small conference room instead of just hanging in the hall all afternoon.  On a brutally hot day with my friend Amy in a full boot cast, this was particularly nice. I met some really amazing people and even one of the working dogs handled by the Chester County Sheriff’s Department.

Anyway…..the verdict?

Guilty.  Gabriel Pilotti wanted to be judged by a jury of his peers, and he was.  And he was found guilty.  Truthfully I think his defense team looked a bit surprised.

Case CP15 -CR-00010992013

Count 1  Cruelty to Animals (Argus) – Guilty

Count 2 Cruelty to Animals (Fiona) – Guilty

Sentencing is October 28th at 9 a.m. in front of Judge Ronald C. Nagle.

Assistant District Attorney Kevin Pierce really brought his A game to the closing.  I could go into the back and forth nitty-gritty of the closing, but why? The verdict is what it is. I also understand that Mr. Pilotti will probably lose his weapon now? That is what I was told on my way out this evening.

Today justice was done for Argus and Fiona.  To me this was also a big win in general for Pennsylvania’s dogs. A win for the dogs is much overdue.

I also want to thank Bud Haly who is on the board of the Chester County SPCA for stepping up and coming to court today.  That gives me hope for that organization.  Some people who are affiliated with the CCSPCA were mighty pissy that I even articulated someone should be there. Guess what? I wasn’t wrong and he said simply that he couldn’t NOT be there. So I am glad one board member did the right thing.

I also want to thank West Vincent Chief of Police Michael Swininger and Officer Austin Russell. They were there with us, and as critical as I can be about West Vincent Township, these two gentlemen are stand up guys. And many thanks to the media who devoted time for this, especially print media. We all know they are stretched thin.

We were all very emotional when the verdict was read.  Bill Bock just stood there for a moment not moving with tears in his eyes.  That right there made all the crap we took for believing in Justice for Argus and Fiona worth it.  This family can have peace and closure.

Run free over the Rainbow Bridge Argus and Fiona. You have your justice, sweet pups.

Chester County man guilty in death of dogs
 Mari A. Schaefer, Inquirer Staff Writer Last updated: Wednesday, September 11, 2013, 5:46 PM      

Daily Local Breaking News: Jury finds man who shot dogs guilty

And some have asked if Pilotti can appeal. Well he can but whether or not he would get much traction? I simply don’t know.  My guess would be not really.

 

 

gone but not forgotten

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

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

CHARGES

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

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

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

argus and fiona

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying