The case of the sham Yonkers SPCA, a group convened only for the thrill of getting a permit to carry a handgun (though they did have some cool badges and arm patches, they had no interest in protecting the rights of animals) brings to mind a similar case back in the late 1980s. That’s when the state banned the SPCC — better known as Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children.
The SPCCs were outlawed after 17 out of 24 chapters, including some in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties were found to be just fronts for vigilante groups who had found a legal loophole that allowed them to carry guns and sport badges. Those societies were abusing a century old law that gave peace officer status to SPCC members so they could protect the rights of children. The societies became obsolete when governments developed social service agencies to look out for children, but the law allowing the formation of SPCCs remained on the books and an underground network of gun-lovers took full advantage of it, until the law was changed in 1989.
I started to research an editorial on this week’s Yonkers SPCA case, thinking maybe there was a network of rogue, vigilante SPCAs out there, too. But, no. Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s press office assured me that Yonkers SPCA was just an isolated case. The state’s other SPCA’s all actually work hard to prevent cruelty to animals.