As I sit here writing this story, my stomach is literally in knots. It makes me ill to know what happened to these beautiful dogs. Let me start from the beginning. I was contacted by a friend last week. She knows how much of an animal lover I am. She also knows that I have a lot of connections in the world of dog rescue. She sent me a message telling me a brief story of her friends two dogs, Bernese Mountain Dogs. The story went on to say how these dogs escaped their back yard only to be shot and killed by a local neighbor who is a farmer. My friend sent me the message in hopes that I could help the family who’s dogs were shot.
Let me say that I am not an attorney and I certainly don’t know all the ins and outs of the law. What I did know was that their is a law that protects farmers and their livestock. If the farmer feels that their livestock is being threatened, they have the right to shoot. Wow! In my mind that left an awful lot of room for questions. My perception and your perception of something that is happening could be completely different. I told my friend what I knew and suggested the family retain an attorney to find out their rights.
Within a very short period of time, the story of Argus & Fiona, the two Bernese Mountain Dogs, took on a life of its on. Why? Because people are becoming more and more aware of animal rights and the lack thereof. The horror of the full story touched home for a lot of people, especially those that new the dogs.
Some details of what really happened that day, we may never know. However, what did take place is as follows. The owners let their dogs outside into their fenced in yard. What they did not realize at the time was that a tree had fallen onto the back of the fence and left an opening for the dogs to escape. Once the owners realized what happened, which was almost immediately, they got in their car and began their search for their dogs. Within 15 minutes, their beautiful dogs, Argus, 2 years old and Fiona, 1 years old, were already shot to death by a man later identified by police as Gabriel Pilotti. When police arrived at Mr. Pilotti’s home, he proceeded to tell them that he looked out his window and saw two dogs chasing his sheep. He proceeded to his garage and loaded his shotgun. He then told police that he shot the bigger dog first, Argus. He then shot the female dog, Fiona while they both were in the fenced in pasture. Mr. Pilotti did tell the police that his sheep were unharmed. The police noticed that the dogs had tags on their collars. They contacted the owners and retrieved their statement.
One would think that should be the end of the story. Seems like the farmer, Gabriel Pilotti, was well within his rights to shoot and kill. Right? Apparently not! The entire community was in an uproar about what happened. The police wound up interviewing Mr. Pilotti for the second time on February 21, 2013. Mr. Pilotti voluntarily went to the police station to give a statement. In his second statement, Mr. Pilotti said that he shot the male dog (Argus) first and that he shot both dogs from outside the fence of the pasture. He told police that when he shot Argus, their were no sheep near the dog and that when the dog, Argus, saw him, he proceeded to trot at a slow pace towards Mr. Pilotti. When police questioned Mr. Pilotti as to where the ewe and her lamb where in relation to the dog, he said that they were far enough away that he would not strike them with a bullet from the gun. Let’s stop right here! If that is the case, how in the world where his sheep in danger? After shooting and killing Argus, Fiona was then seen running from another area of the pasture, trying to get away. Mr. Pilotti says he reloaded his gun and shot Fiona as she was running away from him. Mr. Pilotti told police that their were no sheep near Fiona as she was running away. Mr. Pilotti has been charged with Cruelty to Animals and Recklessly Endangering Another Person. Where does the second charge come from? As Fiona was running for her life, she was heading towards a neighbors home which in turn put that neighbor at risk as well.
Why am I writing this story? Argus & Fiona’s story should be a lesson to all of us. We must have stricter laws that are enforceable in place. While I am in complete agreement that farmers should have the right to protect their livestock, a dog that is on your property is not enough reason to shoot and kill. Mr. Pilotti admitted that the dogs did not harm his sheep. Their were so many ways to diffuse the situation. He admitted to the police that he did nothing to try to get them out of his pasture. Did he yell, No. Did he shoot into the air to scare them, NO. Were they attacking his livestock? NO. Where they growling and showing their teeth and he felt threatened? NO.
We as a society need to know that we simply cannot go around shooting at animals for no reason. Our animals need our protection. We must demand stricter laws against needless killings. We must be the voice of the future. We need to make sure that Argus & Fiona’s deaths were not in vain.
Rest in peace dear Argus & Fiona. Run free over the rainbow bridge. We will not forget you!