KIYC: NJSPCA under investigation by state agencies

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EDISON -

The New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is currently under investigation by at least three state agencies, Kane In Your Corner has learned. It’s unclear whether investigators believe they will find criminal activity, or whether the investigation is more likely to result in another report recommending reforms.

Source say at least nine people with links to the NJSPCA have now been interviewed by investigators with the State Commission of Investigation, the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office and the New Jersey State Police. More interviews are scheduled. 

The state investigations come in the wake of a series of Kane In Your Corner reports that exposed various issues with the NJSPCA, a unique public agency run by volunteers that is authorized to enforce New Jersey’s animal cruelty laws. 

Last month, Kane In Your Corner found hundreds of NJSPCA cases apparently going uninvestigated. Some were still assigned to officers no longer with the organization. Others had neither been closed nor marked “active.”   

A previous story in April revealed the agency had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on no-bid deals with companies linked to its board of trustees. 

And last October, the NJSPCA had its nonprofit status revoked after it failed to file tax returns for three consecutive years. The tax returns have since been filed and the agency has filed for reinstatement with the IRS.

This is not the first time the State Commission of Investigation has looked into the NJSPCA. In 2000, the SCI issued a report calling the agency part of “an archaic legislative scheme.” Commissioners recommended that state lawmakers repeal the agency’s law enforcement authority and give responsibility for animal cruelty enforcement to professional law enforcement. Lawmakers passed a less sweeping reform measure, a decision that disappointed Nancy Halpern, the former NJ state veterinarian.

“In some ways I think it's unfair for the state to require them to fulfill this law enforcement role without proper funding,” says Halpern, now an attorney specializing in animal law. “That's part of the process that needs to change… to bring them under the umbrella of existing government agencies.”

NJSPCA spokesman Matt Stanton disagrees, saying, “The NJSPCA is a very unique public agency that has been enforcing New Jersey’s animal cruelty statutes at no cost to taxpayers for close to 150 years.”

He adds: “While many people have big ideas about local and county law enforcement agencies taking over animal cruelty cases, in the real world they have more important work to do.”

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