Neighbors who live on a quiet street in rural Pennsylvania were horrified when a man in a white pickup truck intentionally tried to run over stray cats last week, hitting at least one.
Now, thanks to one neighbor who captured part of the attack on video, they’ve identified the man at the wheel, and he’s a local politician.
Frank Pagani Jr. resigned from his seat on the municipal council of Galilee, a rural Pennsylvania town with a population of 379. Video shows Pagani Jr. speeding up and swerving to hit one of two cats who were in the road at the time. He was going so fast he blew through the stop sign at the end of the street.
The brazen politician then made a left turn and casually pulled into his own driveway on a side street.
William Bittner, who captured part of the Dec. 1 hit-and-run on video, said Pagani called him afterward, admitted what he’d done, and said he would resign his council seat.
“He thinks that’s the end of it,” said Bittner, who takes care of the cats along with other neighbors on the street. “You just can’t let an act like that go on without someone being charged.”
The Beaver County Humane Society said its humane officers were investigating the incident, but Pagani Jr. hadn’t been charged as of Dec. 6. Neighbors told the Beaver County Times that police officers were going door to door on Dec. 3 to speak to witnesses. Pagani has not returned calls from at least two local media outlets.
Pagani works with his father in their family business, Pagani and Son Trucking LLC, which contracts with the United States Postal Service to shuttle mail in bulk to and from a processing facility to individual post offices in the area. The company has had three USDOT violations in 2020 and 2021, records show.
As for the cats, their fate remains unknown. The video appears to show Pagani’s truck hitting or running over the tail of one cat, who immediately bolted along with the other cat who was in the street at the time. Those two cats took off with a larger group that was on the nearby sidewalk. The injured cat hasn’t been seen since.
“He could have hit the undercarriage of the front, he could have had his tail run over, he could have been bruised,” Bittner told KDKA, the local CBS affiliate. “We’ve been searching and searching and we can’t find him.”
”And when I feed him in the morning and night, he’s not showing up. So we don’t know whether [he] ran off to die or…” Bittner said, trailing off.
In a follow-up post on Facebook, Bittner explained that the strays are part of a managed TNR colony, with neighbors pitching in to help feed the cats and adopt out kittens. So far, 28 cats have been trapped and fixed.
People in the neighborhood believe Pagani was taking matters into his own hands, which follows a disturbing trend of vigilantism toward cats by people who either hate them or think they’re protecting local wildlife by killing cats.
“We don’t need his idea of animal control,” Bittner wrote.