Chesco guilty verdict in dog shootings, cruelty allegations at SPCA

Animal welfare advocates are applauding the verdict in a high profile dog shooting case.

A Chester County jury today found a Chester Springs man guilty of animal cruelty for shooting his neighbor's two dogs.

The jury took only three and a half hours to convict Gabriel Pilotti of shooting the young Bernese Mountain dogs - one as he trotted toward him and the other as she was trying to run away. He claimed they were threatening his sheep but later changed his story.

District Attorney Thomas Hogan was not initially going to prosecute Pilotti, citing state law that allows farmers to shoot dogs if they are menacing farm animals. It was only after community outcry that the case went foward.

Pilotti is to be sentenced next month

More from my colleague Mari Schaefer here.

Meanwhile, troubling issues are mounting over at the Chester County SPCA.

Questions have been raised about the handling of state grant money and a land deal involving the board chairman's firm involving a parcel that was to be set aside for a dog park.

At the same time concerns are being raised about the board's ability to manage a facility that is now handling many times as many stray and surrendered animals as it did two years ago because it is serving not just Chester but Delaware County too.

But the land deals are only one red flag of an organization in disarray.

Volunteers and former board members recounted to Mari a number of horrifying allegations of animal mistreatment at the shelter, including blasting airhorns, twisting dogs' ears and the euthanization of animals for minor health issues that could have been treated.

More on the SPCA here..