N.Y. Horse Rescuer, Suffolk Co. SPCA Settle Lawsuit

The operator of a New York horse rescue organization and the Suffolk County, N.Y., Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) have reached a settlement in a lawsuit alleging the SPCA violated the rescuer's constitutional rights.

The litigation stems from a 2010 SPCA investigation on the New York Horse Rescue (NYHR), operated by Mona Kanicper, said Kanicper's spokesman Lonnie Soury. Kanciper filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern Region of New York alleging that the Suffolk County SPCA violated her civil rights because it failed to conduct a proper investigation into allegations of equine abuse at her Manorville, N.Y., farm. The allegations were brought to the SPCA’s attention in 2009 by a disgruntled NYHR employee and others, Soury said.

While the equine-related abuse allegations were deemed unfounded, Kanciper was indicted on three counts of animal cruelty involving dogs and two counts of endangerment of a minor as a result of the Suffolk County SPCA probe, Soury said. The child endangerment charges were connected to the appropriate euthanasia of a dog while a child was present, he said. During a non-jury trial, one of the charges was dismissed, and Kanciper was found not guilty on all the dog-related animal cruelty charges, Soury said. She was found guilty on one count of child endangerment.

In a written statement, Soury said an appellate court later threw out that child endangerment conviction.

On March 4 Soury announced that Kanciper and the SPCA had reached a settlement in the case. Terms of the settlement were sealed, but Soury's statement said Kanciper was pleased that the case was settled.

A representative for Suffolk County SPCA Chief Roy Gross said Gross declined comment on grounds that the settlement's terms were sealed.

Soury said Kanciper plans to pursue litigation against Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas J. Spota and former Suffolk County Asst. District Attorney Leonard Lato for their parts in her prosecution. Neither Spota nor Lato was available comment. That case remains pending.

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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