Sunday, November 15, 2009

Rogues or rescuers? Depends who you ask



Rescue Ink pulled a publicity stunt when its members crashed a Farmingville news conference about a horrific alleged case of animal cruelty, says Roy Gross, chief of Suffolk County's Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

But another animal rescue group head says Rescue Ink is a bunch of tough guys with hearts of gold.

Conflicting opinions about Rescue Ink - back in the news last week after sparking a shouting match by co-opting an SPCA news conference to accuse the agency of dropping the ball on a high-profile case of alleged dog abuse in Selden - are echoed by other animal rights groups, law enforcement agencies and pet owners who have encountered the brawny, tattooed animal lovers.

Critics say the group shows up uninvited at places where abuse is suspected, and then intimidates those it thinks might be animal abusers.

Rescue Ink's Joe Panzarella does not dispute the characterization.

"These are the things that rescue groups do," he said in an interview early last week, adding, "We're street guys."

Wendy Culkin, president and founder of Center Moriches-based Katie's Critters Small Animal Rescue, said the group is good-hearted and unfailingly helpful.

Rescue Ink helped Katie's Critters in early 2008, she said, by publicizing a request for donated cages she needed to house dozens of guinea pigs seized by authorities from a Syosset home.

"Did we ever need help, and they offered us assistance," she said. "I've never had a bad experience with them at all."..." More & video