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Thursday, August 28, 2008

PA SPCA Responds To Allegations

August 27, 2008

PSPCA Statement on Law Enforcement Operations

Pennsylvania SPCA Issues Statement on Law Enforcement Operations

Philadelphia, August 26, 2008—“The PSPCA is disappointed that the Pocono Record would use the misinformation of disgruntled former employees as the basis of the article, ‘Humane Officers Routinely Sent to Work in Counties Where They are Not Sworn In,’ which appeared in the paper’s August 26 edition,” said PSPCA CEO Howard Nelson. “The claims made throughout the article by two former PSPCA humane officers are desperate attempts to undermine the integrity of our humane agents and our organization and is a mockery of the valuable, life saving rescue work our agents perform every day.”

The PSPCA never asks its humane agents or staff to participate in illegal activities. “We never ask our officers to act as officers in counties where they are not sworn and registered,” said Nelson. “In those counties, they are answering calls as rescue agents—which is legal.”

James and Janeen Duff are animal hoarders. Animal hoarding is a sign of mental illness—in the Pocono Record article, Robert Martin, the Duff’s attorney, acknowledges that the Duffs “have emotional problems.”

“The Duffs could not care for their animals. They realized this and willfully surrendered them to the PSPCA,” said Nelson. “Unfortunately, two of the cats were in such poor health when surrendered to the PSPCA that they died within hours.”

“The article, as written in the Pocono Record, presents just one side of the story—unfounded claims presented by two former employees whose employment records show that they were not able to fulfill the job requirements of a humane officer,” said Nelson.

“The PSPCA’s law enforcement unit has a great reputation across the state and has received more than 8,000 calls regarding animals in need this year,” said Nelson. “It is unfortunate, but no surprise that two agents who were not meeting their assigned, legal job duties are trying to tarnish the impeccable record of the PSPCA law enforcement team by commenting on this one case. It is unfortunate that the Pocono Record has played into this attack on our organization from disgruntled and biased former employees.”

Former PSPCA Humane Agent Reba McDonald’s work quality was questionable. “She did not report to court when subpoenaed and she continually did not record her case records in our computer system,” said PSPCA Chief Programs Officer Elaine Skypala. “We have given her ample opportunity to present us instances where she felt she was treated wrongly or asked to conduct herself in an unethical manner. These requests have gone unanswered because Reba McDonald’s claims are unfounded.”
Former PSPCA Humane Officer Chris Martin refused to participate in a legal undercover investigation, for which he was going to be compensated by the PSPCA for gas for using his own unmarked car. “The PSPCA’s director of law enforcement, as well as an outside attorney and assistant district attorney all confirmed that this investigation was legal,” said Skypala. “Despite knowing this was a legal operation, Chris Martin refused to do his job.”

The email from Nelson reported in the article at “damage control” was taken completely out of context, as were the call logs of a current PSPCA agent.

“That email was written before the motion was filed in the Duff case,” said Nelson. “It was sent to clarify policies—which is one of my duties as CEO. It was in no way sent to ‘cover up’ any actions, as the article implies. Furthermore, regarding the case assignment of an agent not sworn in Monroe County, this is perfectly legal. He has the authority to act as animal rescue.”

Added Nelson, “The PSPCA has thousands of supporters across the state that recognize the difficult job we fulfill to save animals in need and to find loving adoptive homes for these animals. Many of these supporters are from Monroe County, as witnessed in recent blog postings on the Pocono Record website regarding another article:

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