ASPCA gets eye––and doesn’t like it

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, September 1994:

NEW YORK, N.Y.––The American
SPCA won a preliminary injunction on August 12
against use of founder Henry Bergh’s name in con-
nection with fundraising by the Henry Bergh
Coalition, a reform group assembled last spring by
New York City activist Livi French.
The ASPCA accused French of trademark
infringement on June 27, after she began airing an
expose series entitled Eye on the ASPCA o n
Manhattan public access television. The first three
episodes presented pretaped interviews with Herman
Cohen, an ASPCA vice president from 1989 until
his firing in February, with three other senior offi-
cials, for alleged incompetence. The firings came
amid an overtime pay scandal, including the revela-
tion that former ASPCA senior investigator Huando
Torres had pocketed $340,000 in overtime since
1990, while serving as shop steward for one of two
ASPCA Teamsters locals (one of which was recent-
ly decertified.)
Soon thereafter, New York media revealed
the improper designation of ASPCA board members
as humane officers, to enable them to carry
guns––allegedly over the objections of Cohen,
Torres, and the Teamsters. But it happened on
Cohen’s watch, as ASPCA chief administrator until
an August 1993 demotion, after which he was head
of humane enforcement. The deputizations appar-
ently began in late 1992. In one case, Cohen pur-
portedly personally deputized board member Steven
Elkman’s wife Linda. The board gun-toting ended in
February, three months after then-ASPCA special
counsel Madeleine Bernstein advised that the prac-
tice put the ASPCA’s law enforcement status at risk.
Meanwhile, in October 1993, Cohen hit
the ASPCA with eight cruelty counts for failing to
fix the society’s deficient Manhattan shelter. All
counts were conditionally dismissed on June 13 after
senior vice president John Foran––Cohen’s replace-
ment as chief operating officer––testified that he had
given shelter repairs a high priority. Cohen filed the
cruelty charges on the same day Foran says he called
in an architect to plan $400,000 worth of retrofitting.
“He should have served the summons on
himself,” Foran recently told John Simerman of the
Manhattan weekly Our Town. Built during Cohen’s
term as chief administrator, the shelter opened in
April 1992.
Claiming he was fired for whistleblowing,
Cohen is reportedly suing the ASPCA. Two other
staffers who were fired for alleged incompetence,
Martin Belardo and Jose Fernandez, say they were
actually dumped for refusing to help Foran find cause
to fire Cohen. Torres is seeking reinstatement and
back pay through arbitration, arguing that Foran
ousted him to breaking the shelter unions. Union
strife is reportedly one reason the ASPCA is giving
up the New York City animal control contract after
this year, thereby getting rid of most of the unionized
staff. The unions are also said to be the main reason
that New York is unwilling to just absorb the ASPCA
animal control apparatus. The city recently rejected
the only legal bid it received for the animal control
contract, from the Dewey Animal Care Center of Las
Vegas, which reputedly does an outstanding job in
that city, and instead advertised in the July 31 edition
of The New York Times for leadership to form a new
nonprofit animal care and control corporation under
the direction of the city health department.
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