ASPCA closes storied enforcement unit in NYC

January 5, 2014 • Entertainment

FILE -This 2004 photo provided by Animal Planet shows investigator Annemarie Lucas of the Humane Law Enforcement division of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals with a rescued dog in New York. ASPCA agents wore uniforms, flashed badges, carried guns, traveled in blue-and-white squad cars, and for years starred in “Animal Precinct,” as did Lucas, but as of this month, the ASPCA laid off almost all of its 18 law enforcement agents and is now leaving those responsibilities solely to the New York City Police Department. (AP Photo/Animal Planet, Laura Pedrick)

NEW YORK (AP) — For all its 147 years, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has been more than an advocacy group; it has served as the primary law enforcement agency for animal abuse and neglect in New York City.

That role, the first of its kind in the nation, led to a squad of uniformed agents who flashed badges, carried guns, made arrests, traveled in blue-and-white squad cars and, for years, starred in an Animal Planet reality TV show, “Animal Precinct.”

But now, that unit is losing its bite. In December, the ASPCA laid off most of its 17 remaining law enforcement agents. Their responsibilities will be left to the New York Police Department.

The change is one that has been sought for years by some animal advocates, who said the ASPCA’s small enforcement staff couldn’t handle the volume of abuse reports and was taking weeks or months to respond to calls regular police could probably get to in hours.

Others are concerned that without a team focused on animal abuse, it could be given a lower priority by officers Login to read more

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