HACKENSACK, N.J. -- Members of Bergen County's Society for the Prevention of Cruelty To Animals want the public to understand that their organization wasn't involved in any way in a recent investigation of the scandal-ridden NJSPCA.
The Bergen County SPCA works directly with the Bergen County Prosecutor's Animal Cruelty Task Force -- and has for the past 13 years.
Its chief, Roni Wildoner, even heads the task force.
"We are a chapter of the NJSPCA but are not part of the investigation," Wildoner said. "We operate separately."
A recent report by the State Commission of Investigation found the state SPCA in debt and disarray amid "persistent operational waste and abuse and a host of other internal problems."
Certain media accounts of the report seemed to suggest that the all-volunteer, non-profit Bergen County chapter was somehow involved, which it wasn't, Wildoner told Daily Voice.
"We are really dedicated and bothered by the public thinking we were investigated," she said.
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The state Commission of Investigation first looked into New Jersey's SPCA and the county organizations in 2000. It recommended changes in, among other things, how cases should be handled.
In response, then-Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli took control of the local chapter in 2004.
Its members must successfully complete a thorough and exhaustive background check by the prosecutor's office, as well as a New Jersey State Police background check.
"We train at locations where are courses are offered, sometimes out of the county," Wildoner said. "The courses are mandated by the state Attorney General's Office."
Although volunteers, they're on call for one weekend every six to eight weeks to respond to emergencies 24/7.
And whenever they investigate an animal cruelty, abuse or neglect complaint, they first notify the local police department in town to respond with them.
Besides the law enforcement function, the organization participates in community outreach events -- including talks in classrooms and at various organizations -- while conducting fundraising.
A 501(c)3 non-profit organization, the Bergen County SPCA relies almost entirely on tax-deductible donations from the public.
It receives more than 1,000 complaints per year, with nearly 300 of those calls requiring a field investigation by an officer.
The local chapter also works closely with the Bergen County Animal Shelter & Adoption Center in Teterboro.
Public education is a key component of the agency's mission.
If you would like learn more about the BCSPCA's work -- or about keeping and caring for your pets -- email: firstname.lastname@example.org .
Report suspected animal cruelty, abuse, or neglect in Bergen County to: (201) 573-8900 .
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