Horse Rescuer Sues Suffolk Co. SPCA over Rights Violations

The operator of a New York equine rescue organization has filed a federal lawsuit accusing the Suffolk County, N.Y., Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) of illegally exercising police power and violating her civil rights.

According to her spokesman, Lonnie Soury, Mona Kanciper, operator of the New York Horse Rescue (NYHR), filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern Region of New York on May 1. The legal complaint alleges that the Suffolk County SPCA violated Kanciper's civil rights because it failed to conduct a proper investigation into allegations of equine abuse at Kanciper's Manorville 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, as a result of the Suffolk County SPCA probe Kanciper was indicted on three counts of animal cruelty involving dogs and two counts of endangerment of a minor, Soury said. The child endangerment charges were connected to the appropriate euthanasia of a dog while a child was present, he said. During a nonjury trial one of the charges against Kanciper was dismissed, and she was found not guilty on all the dog-related animal cruelty charges, Soury said. Kanciper was found guilty on one count of child endangerment.

"That's being appealed," Soury said.

In a written statement, Suffolk County SPCA Attorney Mercedes Colwin denied allegations contained in Kanciper's complaint.

"The Suffolk County SPCA will not waver from this mission or be intimidated by baseless lawsuits filed by Mona Kanciper and inflammatory comments made by her attorney," Colwin's statement said. "The Suffolk County SPCA vigorously denies any allegations of wrongdoing and will zealously defend its good name."

The suit 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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