He was known as the Pennsylvania cat-murderer, a vicious hound sentenced to life imprisonment at Eastern State Penitentiary for the grisly killing of the governor’s moggie.
In his prison mugshot from 1924, he is seen with ears drooping backwards, an identification number hanging form around his neck looking decisively guilty.
According to newspapers stories at the time, Pep the Black Labrador attacked and killed a cat belonging to the wife of Pennsylvania’s then governor Gifford Pinchot.
But he was framed. Pep was actually entirely innocent, and his actual offence was nothing more serious than chewing the cushions of the sofa on the governor’s front porch.
Owner: Pep had been a gift to Pennsylvania Governor Gifford Pinchot
The account of him killing the cat was entirely fictitious, made up by a newspaper reporter taking a touch more than his fair share of journalistic licence.
The editor loved the story as it was frequently reprinted bearing the mugshot picture.
Governor Pinchot’s son would later recall how his father was inundated with ‘absolutely thousands of letters’ about Pep and his prison sentence.
Of course the real story is far less exciting. Pep was originally a gift to Pennsylvania Governor from the nephew of his wife Cornelia Bryce Pinchot.
One of her relatives relative was a breeder of Labrador Retrievers.
He became a much-loved part of the household at the start of Pinchot’s first term as governor which lasted between 1923 and 1927.
But in early 1924 he began to develop a bad of chewing on the cushions of the front porch sofa.
Pinchot decided that the unruly dog had to go and a trip to a penitentiary in Maine had given him the perfect solution.
Pep was sent to Eastern State Penitentiary, but not as a prisoner.
On his visit to Maine, Governor Pinochet had seen dogs being used as therapy to help inmates rehabilitation, and thought Pep could be the perfect candidate.
So the naughty dog was packed off to prison as a pet where he became a favourite among the inmates.