WEST CHESTER A Chester County man was found guilty Wednesday of cruelty to animals, having he shot and killed his neighbor's dogs after saying he thought they posed a threat to his sheep.

A jury deliberated 31/2 hours before finding Gabriel Pilotti, 73, of Chester Springs, guilty on both counts - one for each dog, said Kevin Pierce, assistant district attorney.

"I respect the jury's verdict, as any trial attorney would, but I respectfully disagree," said Pilotti's attorney, Thomas Ramsay of West Chester.

In February, the two Bernese mountain dogs - two-year-old Argus and one-year-old Fiona - were killed after they escaped from the fenced yard of their owners, Mary and William Bock.

Pierce said the dogs were not attacking or threatening Pilotti's sheep. Argus was shot in the head as he trotted toward Pilotti, and Fiona was shot as she ran away after seeing her mate killed.

The incident outraged animal-rights activists and drew national attention. Pilotti was said to have received death threats.

The Bock family, which includes five children ages 5 to 12, has since adopted three other Bernese mountain dogs.

Pilotti's sentencing is set for Oct. 28 before Judge Ronald C. Nagle, Pierce said.

Contact Mari A. Schaefer at 610-313-3125, mschaefer@phillynews.com or @MariSchaefer on Twitter.