Animal Rights

Yonkers Humane Society -- A Sham to Get Guns & Badges

| by Mark Berman Opposing Views

A New York group calling itself the Yonkers Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has been exposed as a sham -- a group created just so its members could get guns and badges, says the state's Attorney General.

AG Andrew Cuomo says the 16 men who were in the group appeared to have no interest in actually helping animals. Tuesday the state Supreme Court shut them down, ordering them to turn in their weapons and badges.

The men started the SPCA in 2007, Cuomo said, so they could "masquerade as a law enforcement entity." State law gives guns, badges and peace officer status to humane society cruelty investigators.

The only problem is that they didn't seem to do anything. "We've never seen them," said Ken Ross, chief of the legitimate Westchester Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. "Basically, I think they really didn't do anything except have meetings."

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Yonkers is in Westchester County, and that group actually oversees animal issues in oversees Yonkers. "You would think there would have been some sort of overlap, but we've never crossed paths," Ross said.

The Yonkers SPCA went so far as to set up a website, declaring itself "responsible for patrol, emergency response, investigation, and enforcement of animal welfare laws at the federal, state and local levels." The site noted that its "detectives" could make arrests in "any crime." It said volunteers had received "Firearms, Aerosol Subject Restraint, Asp Baton and Tactical Handcuffing training."

Among the members was a former cop from nearby Greenburgh named Erik Ward, who was fired for misconduct in 2007 after a dominatrix alleged that he offered to help her with a marijuana conviction if she would perform sex acts for him.

Infighting among the do-nothing men caused one of them to inform the Attorney General's office last year about the group's actions -- or more accurately, it's inaction.

The Court also ordered that any assets the group might have be turned over to a real organization that actually helps animals.