The Dutchess County SPCA website (which proudly notes that the DCSPCA is "chartered" by the ASPCA) insists that its agents, who are peace officers, enjoy the". . .the same powers as Police Officers."
Uuhhh, let's hope not.
Municipalities across the country routinely outsource animal cruelty law enforcement functions to private service providers. Confiscated animals may be "re-homed" or put down. Their owners may be charged with felonies.
The rules under which these service providers operate are often poorly delineated, and poorly understood--particularly by pet owners and private citizens suddenly confronted by someone who looks just like a cop.
In an on-going case in Putnam County, New York, it appears that an employee of a humane society leveraged her ability to seize and dispose of dogs by "blending" her dual functions as both a humane society president and county sheriff's department employee.
The scandal raises accusations of conflict of interest and serious professional impropriety.
When rogue contractors run amok: Is Agent Orange above the law? ASPCA employees, like those of other humane societies, are accountable to its board of directors. Not the public.
The ASPCA enforces animal cruelty laws (and not animal control ordinances) in the City of New York, and refers to their employees as "humane law enforcement agents". State law governing who may enforce animal cruelty laws recognizes no such category. What recourse do the victims of rogue ASPCA employees have? After veteran ASPCA "humane law enforcement" Agent de la Torre bullied his way into a home without a warrant and illegally seized animals there, what recourse did the pet owners have?
The New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board has no jurisdiction.NYC Police Department's Internal Affairs? Fuhgedaboutit. Is there a "Humane Law Enforcement Grievance Board" anywhere? Nope. Hollywood meets animal cruelty law enforcement: Animal Precinct
An officer who left the agency several years ago, John Lopez, said one enforcement problem was that efforts are sometimes tailored for the show, whose crews routinely accompany officers in the field. . .
Judge Matthew A. Sciarrino Jr. of Criminal Court ruled that the A.S.P.C.A. officer, John De La Torre, “in an effort to play the starring role,” improperly took the animals after going to the door with a camera crew shooting from the sidewalk. Judge Sciarrino immediately dismissed the charges against the defendants.
And that's it?
Apparently so. The ASPCA, animal rights extremism and federal RICO statutes Feld Entertainment, owner of Ringling Brothers Barnum and Baily Circus, filed a RICO lawsuit in August naming the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and alleging a pattern of conspiracy and Federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) violations, including bribery, obstruction of justice, wire fraud and mail fraud.
This lawsuit is a direct result of the animal rights extremists' agenda to deny families in the United States entertainment choices like the circus and their ongoing conspiracy to harm Feld Entertainment," stated Stephen Payne, a spokesperson for Feld Entertainment. "The 65-page complaint speaks for itself and documents the RICO violations that Feld Entertainment has alleged. Feld Entertainment looks forward to proving to a jury the magnitude and scope of the defendants' conduct. "Criminal acts, with little fear of penalty." Move over, Blackwater. In many parts of the country, privately employed personnel are searching homes and seizing pets and livestock. Go ahead and choose your state. Depending on where you live, you might be in for an unpleasant surprise.What oversight of the activities of such private "humane law" contractors exists? What avenues (other than a high powered and expensive lawsuit) exist for grievances from the public? Transparency in government. No longer a value? Who's in charge of law enforcement policy, anyway? Public servants with direct accountability. . . or the Boards of Directors of private organizations?
Is this any way to run a democracy? I don't think so.