Stealing dogs? Vigilante justice? There’s a bit of commotion in the Philadelphia area animal welfare community. Two members of the Justice Rescue team are charged with stealing a dog and impersonating a police officer.
Justice Rescue steps in after city agency fails to act.
“Wolf” Harper and “House” Lewis, of Justice Rescue, received numerous complaints about a negligent dog owner. The PSPCA received similar complaints. The complaints alleged that a dog was being kept outdoors under cruel conditions in the Frankford section of Philadelphia. he PSPCA maintained that the conditions did not rise to the level of a legal violation. Since no action was being taken by city agencies, Justice Rescue paid a visit to the owner. According to Justice Rescue, the dog owner willingly agreed to hand the dog over them.
The PSPCA maintains that the conditions did not rise to the level of a legal violation. Since the PSPCA did not take action, Justice Rescue paid a visit to the owner. According to Justice Rescue, the dog owner willingly agreed to hand the dog over them.
The PSPCA investigates.
The next day, PSPCA Humane Enforcement Officers showed up to investigate. The dog owner was a little confused. According to the City Paper, he told the PSPCA officers, “‘I don’t know what you’re talking about. You guys were here yesterday and you took the dog.'”
After an investigation, the PSPCA determined that Justice Rescue removed the dog. The PSPCA maintains that Justice Rescue left a “notice of investigation” form that is similar to the PSPCA’s Notice of Investigation. The CityPaper reports that the PSPCA claims that Justice Rescue was impersonating it’s humane enforcement officers.
Why Justice Rescue is different from the PSPCA.
Justice Rescue’s tagline is, “It’s not about the toes we step on, it’s about the paws we protect.” It’s stated Mission is:
To protect animals from abuse, cruelty, and neglect. We focus on education as private citizens who are trying to help the general public become more aware of the proper humane treatment of animals.
Justice Rescue, however, is one of the first private organizations in the Philadelphia area. This means that they don’t receive taxpayer money. Therefore, they don’t have the same legal restrictions as the PSPCA. This enables them to proactively educate individuals who are suspected of abusing or neglecting any animal.
Is this fair?
Don’t we need more people pro-actively helping our animals? Particularly when our shelters are overrun, overwhelmed, and overburdened?
Or is this really just a pissing contest as to who is better at rescuing abused animals?
Some people are claiming that Justice Rescue is being unfairly portrayed in the media. Others are saying that they are impersonating the police and should be criminally charged. Both Justice-Rescue, Fox29Philadelphia’s and the Pennsylvania SPCA’s Facebook pages are blowing up with angry comments. Some argue Justice-Rescue is being unfairly portrayed. Others insist the media is presenting a one-sided story. Some are vowing to never again support the PSPCA.
Justice Rescue Attorney Jack McMahon Weighs In
Philadelphia criminal defense attorney Jack McMahon posted the following on the Justice Rescue Facebook page:
This is attorney Jack McMahon. I represent Russ Harper(Wolf). PSPCA officials, the police and whoever authorized this arrest within the DA’s office should be ashamed of themselves. Charging these men, who have dedicated their time and effort to the noble cause of helping abused dogs, with a CRIME is a clear abuse of power and insult to fairness and justice. This arrest is based on an incomplete investigation and personal vendettas by people at PSPCA. The dog in question was voluntarily surrendered to Justice Rescue with an owner surrender form, along with a photocopy of driver’s license of the owner. There was no misrepresentation as to who they were and the surrender form reflects clearly they were from Justice Rescue and not any governmental agency. The dog was voluntarily surrendered to Justice Rescue and they were not about to return it to PSPCA where there was a possibility of euthanizing the dog if it could not be placed. The only crime here is charging these caring and dedicated men.
Update: Charges Dropped
On December 30, 2013, the case against Justice Rescue was dismissed after the main witness, Oren Barzeski, failed to appear at the preliminary hearing.
What really went on here? Any thoughts?