A former councilman in rural Pennsylvia faces two animal abuse charges after trying to run down a group of cats — and hitting at least one — with his truck earlier this month.
Frank Pagani Jr. was charged with aggravated cruelty toward animals, a felony, as well as a misdemeanor animal cruelty charge, according to a story by Beaver County Times reporter Garret Roberts.
Neighbor William Bittner, who helps care for the neighborhood strays, captured the Dec. 1 incident on his home security camera. The clip (embedded below) shows Pagani’s truck speeding up on the residential street and swerving toward cats who were in the road before blowing through a stop sign. Pagani Jr. then made a left turn to a side street and pulled into his driveway a few hundred feet away.
The 31-year-old was behind the wheel of the truck and his father, Frank Pagani Sr., was in the passenger seat during the incident, according to the Times. The Paganis live in New Galilee, a town of 379 people in rural Pennsylvania about 50 miles north of Pittsburgh.
Bittner said last week that Pagani Jr. called him after he realized the incident was caught on video and said he’d resign his council seat.
“He thinks that’s the end of it,” Bittner said at the time. “You just can’t let an act like that go on without someone being charged.”
Bittner and his neighbors have been caring for the stray colony for years. In addition to feeding the strays, they’ve run a trap, neuter and return (TNR) program, fixing 28 cats, and have found homes for kittens who were born to the colony cats.
The Pagani family apparently panicked when they realized Bittner had captured the incident on video and posted it to Facebook. Per the Times:
“The police affidavit also details repeated phone calls were made to the homeowner who caught the incident on camera by Pagani, his father and his mother. Voicemails received by police detail the family asking for the video to be taken down.”
The video shows Pagani’s truck striking at least one of the cats, who immediately ran off with the other strays. It’s not clear how badly the cat was injured, and Bittner said “he’s not showing up” at regular feeding times.
“We’ve been searching and searching and we can’t find him,” he told WKDA, the local CBS affiliate.
Locals who reacted to the video on Facebook were horrified by the footage.
“I adopted one of those kittens,” one woman commented. “This breaks my heart.”