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UPDATE: DA Dismisses Pigeon Shoot Citations

SHARK responds to Heckler's decision.

Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler has decided not to prosecute citations against a local gun club regarding its live pigeon shoots.

Johnna Seeton, a court-appointed Humane Society officer, filed animal cruelty citations against the Philadelphia Gun Club. The club holds the shoots at its property at State and Street roads in Bensalem.

The citations alleged five counts of cruelty to animals during its pigeon shoots on March 17 and 31. They said that the club failed to retrieve and kill five pigeons that had been wounded during the shoots and were found in the Delaware River near the club.

“The shooting of pigeons in Pennsylvania is unquestionably legal,” the release stated. Efforts by Seeton and others to persuade the Pennsylvania General Assembly to ban pigeon shooting failed as recently as December 2011.

The DA’s office agreed however that efforts must be made to ensure that animals wounded but not killed by shotgun are humanely killed. Gun clubs must conduct a complete search of their property and adjacent areas for the purpose of retrieving wounded birds at the end of the pigeon shoot.

A video produced by advocacy group Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK), showed a pigeon being retrieved from the river. The DA's release said the video was unclear.

The DA said club representatives have acknowledged and accepted their responsibility to humanely kill birds that have survived the pigeon shoot. The club has erected a barrier to prevent birds from escaping from their property and hired individuals to patrol the Delaware River in search of wounded birds.

According to the DA, these steps represent a good faith effort to comply with the obligations imposed by law.

Therefore the DA has advised District Judge Leonard Brown that the citations will not be prosecuted and should be dismissed.

Philadelphia Gun Club attorney Sean Corr told PhillyBurbs last month that Seeton’s actions have become “an abuse of police power.”

Seeton countered, “I don’t believe it’s an abuse of power at all. When there’s cruelty involved, I’m going to charge for it.”

Following news of the dismissal, SHARK issued the following release:

In a sadly unsurprising move, Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler has dismissed five animal cruelty citations against the Bensalem based Philadelphia Gun Club (PGC) which were legally filed by Humane Society Police Officer Johnna Seeton. This is the second time that Heckler has used his power to protect the PGC from cruelty charges.

“The shooting of pigeons at the Philadelphia Gun Club is unquestionably illegal,” states Officer Seeton. “Any reasonable person who views Pennsylvania’s cruelty statute 5511 can see that for themselves. There is no affirmative legal excuse for shooting pigeons solely for fun and pigeons are animals and animals are protected by the law. It's simple and easy. The truth is that the shoots held by the PGC are violations of state law, but we can’t stop them if the District Attorney won’t allow us to go to court.”

SHowing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK) contends that Heckler’s intervention in this case was payback for campaign support and that Heckler should have recused himself from the case.

“DA Heckler has strong ties to the lawyer and law firm that represent the PGC,” states SHARK President Steve Hindi. “Heckler had a duty to recuse himself from this case, but he chose instead to again use his power to protect the wealthy clients of a law firm that has donated heavily to his campaign.”

SHARK has previously pointed out the unethical connection between Heckler and Sean Corr, the lawyer for the PGC (you can view that report on this webpage: http://www.pashame.com/hecklerethicscomplaint.html). 

New evidence shows that the Heckler’s financial connections to the pigeon shooters go much deeper. Sean Corr works for the law firm of Eastburn and Gray, which is the firm of record that represents the PGC. Eastburn and Gray was a major donor to Heckler when he ran for Judge in 2007.  

In Heckler’s campaign finance report filing 2007, cycle 5, nearly half of the donations came from members of Eastburn and Gray, giving Heckler a total of $3,070 in that cycle alone. We already knew that Heckler’s ties to Sean Corr were serious breaches of the principals and moral code that a District Attorney should abide by, but these new revelations show how much more insidious the situation is.

SHARK is continuing to review Heckler’s campaign records and will release more information in the near future.

“DA Heckler knew how strong this case was and was determined to never let it be heard in a court of law,” states Hindi.  “He knew that if his patron’s client was found guilty then that would shut down pigeon shoots at the PGC, and he was willing to disgrace himself and his office to make sure that never happens.”

Frank Mullen June 18, 2012 at 08:41 PM
In one video Hindi said they feed and water them, in this one he said they starved them. Which is it?
Beorge Gush June 18, 2012 at 09:13 PM
Pigeon shoots may have been legal in PA for decades, but there's no arguing the fact that flinging pigeons out of little boxes surrounded by 'hunters' is not humane. I doubt they have been doing that for decades. Far from the early days of open field pigeon hunting.
Steve Hindi June 18, 2012 at 09:21 PM
This is not a "which is it" issue. They obviously feed and water the birds enough to keep them alive, but wildlife rehabbers and veterinarians have stated that the birds are emaciated.
JT WALDIE June 18, 2012 at 09:41 PM
Heckler is as corrupt as they come!!!!! How can this man be trusted in his capacity as District Attorney to serve public interest when what he is doing is reprehensible and repugnant. HE IS NOT TO BE TRUSTED!!!! This proves that anyone can shove some money in his pocket and he can be bought!
Mike Hunt June 18, 2012 at 09:50 PM
I understand they shoot over a public water way. If so, they should be required to follow specfic rules that may fall under Coast Guard Regulations about live fire that they most likely do not. Apparently, the State Attorney General's Office needs to get invovled and at the bare minimum make sure they comply with ALL LAWS including when operating a vehicle with their license plate covered while on public roadways.
Fred Horn June 18, 2012 at 11:29 PM
Steve if you are going to lie about how the pigeons are kept then how can anyone believe anything you say. First you claimed Pa is the only state that allows shoots, then some how you end up in NC. This one tried to run me over, this guy tried to break my camera???? HMMM I am starting to see a pattern here. Folks even PETA wants nothing to do with shark, neither does the court want to deal with radicals. All why you state this shouldn't happen in your state, last time I checked your residency is in IL, Stu lives in NJ more of that pattern??? But I have to hand it to you for getting people to donate money to you, Now I have to get on a plane for the Rodoe in Reno Tues nite.
Frank Mullen June 19, 2012 at 12:45 AM
Why is it Steve that anyone who doesn't follow your will is corrupt? There is YOUR way, or everyone is corrupt. Following your logic, Seeton and Minor are corrupt self appointed vigilante's. Are you having trouble getting money to pay for your new Mercedes?
CherieM June 19, 2012 at 03:21 AM
Why is PA still holding out as the only state that has not outlawed this cruel barbarity? SICK is what it is.
Alexis2012 June 19, 2012 at 03:25 AM
Anyone who supports this sh*t is a piece of lowlife scum anyway. The DA should have his head in the toilet. I have been disgusted by these 'shoots' and these bozos for 20 years. Sick of it. Losers the lot of em. Torturing birds for kicks -- grown men--losers. As a family past time?
Virginia Leah Kintz June 19, 2012 at 03:51 AM
Years back, I was invited to a neighboring property in rural Chester County. To my horror, I walked into a pigeon shoot. I have a problem with permitting ten and eleven year old children to stomp on birds' heads, swing them around by their heads to break their necks, dogs shredding birds on the ground and trash barrels full of dead birds - with some still alive, dying a slow death. These beautiful creatures started the event with a disadvantage - they had not been given food or water for days - making the "macho men" more capable of hitting their targets. Yes, PIGEON SHOOTS ARE RECREATIONAL TARGET PRACTICE IN WHICH THEY USE LIVE BIRDS. And, how about the years and years of lead (the stuff no longer permitted in paint) shot and dead carcuses that have accumulated in the Delaware River as a result? Cruelty and water pollution on top of teaching minor children that it's okay to abuse a bird - and then not taking action against those breaking the cruelty laws in Pennsylvania - is enough for many of us to boycott all Bensalem businesses until the Township's leaders do the right thing. - Virginia Leah Kintz, Writer/Editor/Public Speaker since 1982.
Virginia Leah Kintz June 19, 2012 at 03:54 AM
Mike, not to mention the lead shot that has been accumulating in the Delaware River for years - in addition to the dead carcuses.
Melissa Hall June 19, 2012 at 03:58 AM
Not only are pigeon shoots a terrible family activity, they are dangerous. The water pollution caused by the river full of bullets will haunt us inthe future.
No nonesense June 19, 2012 at 05:07 AM
Fred Horn and Frank Mullen, your attempt at redicule is grasping at straws, and it is childish. The term humane killing, as used here, mystifys me. For the life of me I haven't been able to figure out how slaughter for the sheer joy of killing, with a powerful weapon, is considered humane. Likewise, collecting the injured birds and snapping or twisting their necks to insure their deaths after a failed killing-for-joy event and calling it a humane death is absurd. But then PA law is absurd. How can you have a law against animal cruelty while allowing an animal to be used as an object to be slaughtered for the sake of a thrill. Obviously, PA does not care about the wonton slaughter of defenseless pigeons, nor does it care about the corrupt, violent nature of some of its citizens.
Virginia Leah Kintz June 19, 2012 at 05:22 AM
Yes, Melissa, a "family activity". Permitting minor children to handle wild, bloody, lead shot filled birds without gloves. (Their mothers take more precautions preparing Thanksiving turkeys in the kitchen.) If a child puts his finger up to his nose to stiffle a sniffle, think of the germs he is ingesting. What are these parents thinking? What messages are they sending their children by letting them participate in these events?
Laura Manz June 19, 2012 at 10:54 AM
The shoot in North Carolina was an illegal shoot and not sanctioned by the NC State Government. Regardless of where the members of Shark are from, the underlying cruelty of the pigeon shoots remain. It is deemed illegal and cruel in 49 out of 50 states. Pennsylvania is the ONLY state that legally condones this activity. If Mr. Horn did this to one bird in his back yard, he could be charged with animal cruelty and if found guilty, punished under the current laws. However, if he were a member of a gun club, he could shoot a few hundred birds each weekend and call it good fun. The law needs changed. The pigeon shoots need banned in this state too.
scifibird June 19, 2012 at 11:34 AM
This is a barbaric and inhumane activity and should NEVER be permitted in a so-called "civilized" society. And what this activity is teaching children is that some lives don't matter. That is a terrible thing to teach a child! The killing of the innocents is never acceptable.
AidanJ June 19, 2012 at 01:49 PM
Even though I'm not a big fan of pigeons, I still don't think they should be allowed to slaughter them for fun.
Earthbone Rebel June 19, 2012 at 02:20 PM
What is wrong with the State of Pennsylvania ?They need to stop this grotesques behavior .My visits to all the car shows,and there are many, are on hold and have been for two years now until this atrocity ends.
Terrie Philips June 19, 2012 at 02:24 PM
C'mon, y'all. Was it James Carville who said, "Pennsylvania is Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and in between it's Alabama" ? PA is a redneck state, to the endless embarassment of PA natives who can actually read and write. People with no lives and nothing better to do will continue to kill other creatures for "fun" as long as they can get away with it. No one should be surprised by this, or by one of their cronies refusing to prosecute them. It's the ugly reality of politics and life in America, the "land of the free to do whatever the *#$* you want.."
Wendy Saddler June 19, 2012 at 04:03 PM
Which is no wonder why we get referred to as "Pennsyltucky" and Howard Stern, when initially coming into Philadelphia on WYSP said "Set down your banjos, and UN-cross your eyes." :P
ASteinberg June 19, 2012 at 04:53 PM
The only thing uglier and more corrupt than the OBVIOUSLY immoral and disgusting shooting of live birds by very sick lowlife scum is the pitiful excuses for politicians we have in this state who allow it. Clearly, there are payoffs galore. After all the years of trying to appeal to intelligence and decency, it is clear that in Pennsylvania government, there is NONE. Time for vigilante justice.
Beorge Gush June 19, 2012 at 05:10 PM
Hindi may be radical when it comes to cruelty to animals, and what he does with his money is his own business. The same as it's only Hecklers business what he does with his 'payoffs.' Does it bother you Hindi is trying to shed much light on how inhumane pigeon shoots are? How can you look at this and feel it's moral. Maybe you were raised into it, and taught that it is indeed appropriate. Like many of the partisipating parents do with their children. You loose sense as to what is and isn't moral. Fact of the matter is, it's cruel. Unsanitary. Inhhumane. Not ethnical. Corrupt. SO corrupt, one has to go as far as to pay a DA to turn his head.
Frank Mullen June 19, 2012 at 08:29 PM
He bought it with SHARKS money!
Beorge Gush June 19, 2012 at 11:29 PM
Well deserved considering what he does with his time. Afterall, this isn't about money. It's about a how you can pay Heckler off. I wonder what toys Heckler bought with his donations. Perhaps a new Beretta Over/Under 12 gauge and a gun club membership ;)
Virginia Leah Kintz June 21, 2012 at 10:05 AM
Amazingly, Terrie, many who participate in the shoots are educated professionals who have multiple homes and live-in caretakers. From what I observe, it's the same type of people who particpating in fox hunts.
Virginia Leah Kintz June 21, 2012 at 10:12 AM
Vigilante justice would put people on the same low level as the shoot participants. What is more effective is to (and encourage others to) vote out on election day those who refuse to enforce the law and make your voice heard through your pocketbook - boycott Bensalem businesses until its leaders decide to do the right thing, perhaps sending an email, letter to the Editor of the local paper or a letter to the Township. Laws to protect animals have been enacted when lawmakers hear from their constituents.
Virginia Leah Kintz June 21, 2012 at 10:17 AM
Earthbone, why don't you send the PA lawmakers, the Governor and the car show organizers a letter stating that, until the pigeon shoots are banned, you will not be coming to the Commonwealth and supporting the car shows? It takes public pressure to change laws. Every letter, email and phone call makes a difference.
Virginia Leah Kintz June 21, 2012 at 10:27 AM
Most of these shoots take place on private properties of the affluent with lots of acreage so the public cannot see what they are doing. Even if they pick up the bodies on their own land, they neglect the birds who were shot and flew to neighboring properties who suffer a slow, painful death. Their decaying bodies contain lead shot which will get into the ground and private well consumptive water supplies.
george jessup July 27, 2012 at 04:24 AM
The pigeon shoot is a sad statement about our society. It seems one function of the shoot to allow the shooters to blow off steam. One video of the shoot shows teens gathering the wounded pigeons and joyfully slamming them into a waste barrel. One's cruelty to animals is often considered a warning sign of one's possible tendencies toward violence in society. This combined with the nasty aggressive manner by which the shooters defend this "sport" is one of many things that puts me in strong favor of gun control.
noresponsenovote November 16, 2012 at 07:48 PM
The gun club members and pigeon shooters are disturbed sadists. I'm a 6 year Marine veteran who would gladly and eagerly bring a fight to these sandcrab COWARDS, and would attend a Shoot the Pigeon Shooters event any and ever day of the week.

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