SPCA International is ordered to stop using
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November/December 2010:
MONTREAL–Quebec Superior Court Judge Louis Crete on November
19, 2010 ordered SPCA International to “immediately cease using and
operating directly or indirectly” the web domain names <spca.com> and
Judge Crete ruled that the Montreal SPCA, also known as the
Canadian SPCA, “is the sole owner and/or exclusive user and
registrant of the domain names,” which have been in dispute since
As of December 4, 2010 entering the domain name <spca.com>
in web browser programs still redirected the user to the SPCA
International web site, <spcai.org>.
Pierre Barnoti, executive director of the Montreal SPCA from
1994 until July 2008, incorporated SPCA International in Delaware in
“Under the terms of the agreement, the parties reserve all
their rights regarding damages resulting from the transfer by Barnoti
of the domain name <spca.com> to SPCA International Inc. in March
2006,” explained the Montreal SPCA in a prepared statement. “The
assessment of alleged damages by the Montreal SPCA will take place at
a later date, once the required evidence has been produced for the
Judge Crete in October 2009 allowed Barnoti to continue using
the “SPCA.com” web address, but required that donations received
through the site by SPCA International be deposited into a trust
fund, plus an additional $50,000, pending his verdict as to who
owns the <spca.com> domain name.
Barnoti was suspended in March 2008 by the Montreal SPCA
board, and was fired in July 2008, after the Montreal SPCA was
unexpectedly found to be $4 million in debt. The debt was reduced to
$3 million during the next year.
The Montreal SPCA lawsuit against Barnoti, filed in October
2008, alleges that the Montreal SPCA “financed over the years
maintenance and development costs and expenses of the web site
<spca.com> without being reimbursed,” including “all the travel
expenses of Barnoti to Europe and the U.S. to attend conventions and
meetings, including a meeting in New York with Paul Irwin, a well
known fundraiser, to discuss fundraising opportunities using the
domain name and web site <spca.com>.” Barnoti allegedly began trying
exploit the potential of the <spca.com> domain name as early as two
years before actually forming SPCA International, according to
exhibits attached to the Montreal SPCA lawsuit.
Irwin was vice president of the Humane Society of the U.S.
from 1975 to 1996, and president from 1996 to 2004. He later headed
the American Bible Society. Irwin introduced Barnoti to web
developer Richard Gordon, whose firm Irwin employed at both HSUS and
the American Bible Society. Barnoti hired Gordon to help launch SPCA
The American Bible Society dropped Gordon in May 2008 and did
not renew Irwin’s contract, which expired in June 2008, after New
York Times technology writer Brad Stone exposed Gordon’s role in
facilitating credit card transactions for a Curacao-based operator of
sexually explicit web sites.
SPCA International in 2008, the most recent year for which
IRS Form 990 is available, had income of $3.3 million, against
expenses of $5.8 million, including $4 million (70%) for fundraising
and administrative expense if a portion of these costs is allocated
to program expense as “public education.” If not, 89% of the SPCA
International expenses went to fundraising and administration.