From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 1994:

year ago Garo Alexanian and his
Companion Animal Network were lit-
tle-known gadflies, the mayor of New
York City was former American SPCA
board member David Dinkins, and the
ASPCA held the seemingly firm
monopoly on providing animal control
service to the five boroughs of New
York City that it received in 1896.

A month later, in April, the
ASPCA dramatically announced it was giving
up its pound contract––possibly, Alexanian
and other critics charged, to evade a rumored
City Council probe of conditions at a new
shelter that ended up costing nearly twice the
initial budget and was still substandard. At
the same time, Alexanian alleged that since
former ASPCA president John Kullberg was
ousted and replaced by current president
Roger Caras in 1991, senior investigator
Huando Torres had used his position as assis-
tant to the president of the Teamsters union to
double his salary by working overtime shifts
at double and triple pay. Alexanian also
spoke of leading a caravan to Albany to get
the New York legislature to break the ASPCA
monopoly by permitting the incorporation of a
separate SPCA with law enforcement powers
in each borough. And he faced trial for
allegedly assaulting Torres and ASPCA chief
of law enforcement Herman Cohen.
Today Dinkins is out. The mayor is
Rudolf Giuliani, for whom Alexanian cam-
paigned. During the second week of
February, Alexanian took 47 supporters to
Albany and claimed to have won both
Republican and Democratic co-sponsors for a
bill to allow the incorporation of a new SPCA
with law enforcement powers for each bor-
ough. Alexanian was convicted by a jury on
October 25 of interfering in an arrest, on the
testimony of Torres and Cohen, but on
December 13 judge Roger Rosengarten threw
out the charges on appeal, ruling that there
was no cause why the case should ever have
been tried. On December 28, however,
ASPCA vice president and general
counsel Eugene Underwood blocked
Alexanian’s attempt to start incorpo-
rating a Bronx SPCA by citing his
purported criminal record, by then
wholly expunged, and by noting that
on February 28, 1993, Underwood,
Cohen, and ASPCA vice president
Steve Zawistowski had already qui-
etly incorporated under the same
name––telling ANIMAL PEOPLE
that it was not to block any move by
Alexanian, but rather just a formality having
to do with their exercise of police powers.
Underwood didn’t answer new ques-
tions from ANIMAL PEOPLE about those
moves. Nor did anyone at the ASPCA want
to talk––on the record––about the January 21
revelation by the New York Post that Torres
had collected $192,096 in 1993, with base
pay of $60,147, while Brooklyn shelter fore-
man Ronald Jolly drew $116,527 on base pay
of $30,240 and two favored kennel workers
got $146,908 and $111,809, respectively, on
base pay of circa $30,000. No statement was
forthcoming on the firing of chief veterinarian
Gordon Robinson or the suspensions of
Cohen, vice president for finance Harold
Finkelstein, and vice president for personnel
Bridget O’Carroll, although off the record
two well-placed sources claimed Finkelstein
and O’Carroll had been scapegoated as
Kullberg’s people and therefore expendible.
And the ASPCA didn’t have much
to say, either, about the February 9 New York
Post report that nine ASPCA board members
including Caras had improperly designated
themselves humane officers, in order to pack
pistols without permits––despite a warning
from independent counsel Madeleine
Bernstein that this could jeopardize the
ASPCA’s law enforcement privileges.
The process of turning New York
animal control duties over to another agency
or contractor has been indefinitely suspended
by the Giuliani administration. And people
are beginning to take Alexanian seriously.
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