OLEAN, N.Y. (WIVB) - A cruelty inspector for the Cattaraugus County SPCA was arrested Tuesday morning on a felony charge of criminal possession of a forged instrument.
According to the Cattaraugus County Sheriff Timothy Whitcomb, 38-year-old Phillip Barrett was in possession of a forged "rabies vaccination certificate" in March of 2008. The biggest question about the arrest is why now? Why did it take four years to arrest someone for a document he may or may not have even signed himself?
Cattaraugus County SPCA Board Member Donna Toepfer said, "He's a wonderful fighter for the animals, he really is."
SPCA officials are coming out in support of Barrett, who on top of being a cruely investigator is also a court security guard for the Olean Courthouse.
Cattaraugus County Sheriff Timothy Whitcomb said, "I'm not going to get into the details of who signed it or who was supposed to have signed it. Those are some of the fine tuned questions that are still under the scope of the investigation and I'm sure that'll come out with the court."
Cattaraugus County SPCA Board Member Kristen McDonald stated, "On behalf of the SPCA, I have to say that we stand by Phil Barrett and his belief that the veterinarian, I mean it's common practice for a vet to say, 'Please sign my name.' And it was his belief that he was acting in good faith."
The Cattaraugus County SPCA had a spay/neuter shelter until two years ago.
"Phil or probably anyone else that worked on that clinic [likely signed certificate with a vet's permission]. And that's why I'm a little taken back that Phil is the only one targeted here," McDonald said.
News 4 paid a surprise visit to the shelter in Hinsdale last winter, and while much of the building needed updating, the dogs seemed well treated.
Toepfer said, "I think it's political and sadly because we are "no-kill," there are so many organizations that they don't approve of the no-kill. They think unless the dog is sweeter than sweet they should be put down. We don't because they all deserve to live."
Barrett is free until a court appearance in Hinsdale on Wednesday.
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