Bikers who rescue dogs are charged with stealing one

Posted: February 13, 2013

THEY ARE BURLY, tattooed men in black with soft spots for neglected animals, but authorities say Justice Rescue took the outlaw-biker mystique too far and actually broke the law.

According to the Pennsylvania SPCA, Justice Rescue members Russell Wayne "Wolf" Harper and Robert John "House" Lewis were arrested Tuesday for impersonating a law-enforcement officer, theft, receiving stolen property and conspiracy for allegedly taking a pit bull in November from a property near Frankford Avenue and Orthodox Street in Northeast Philadelphia.

And according to the PSPCA, Justice Rescue won't give the dog back.

"I don't need vigilantes out there doing this who have no clue what they're doing. I can't go traipsing around someone's property," said George Bengal, the PSPCA's director of law enforcement.

Bengal said his office received complaints about the Frankford Avenue property, but found that the dogs there were in good health and being cared for. The owner left the dogs outside at night to secure the property, but Bengal said that's not illegal because they had proper shelter.

"If these individuals don't like what they see and don't want animals outside, they should direct their resources to lobbying Harrisburg," Bengal said.

Wendy A. Marano, PSPCA spokeswoman, said the two men were released after posting bail.

In August, the Daily News spent a day with Justice Rescue as they traveled through Chester checking on dogs who were being kept outside. The men also brought a small, wooden roof they built and gave it to a family to cover their dog. At the time, Wolf said Justice Rescue wouldn't wait around if they felt a dog was being neglected.

"We will not be intimidated," he said. "It just doesn't happen."

Justice Rescue could not be reached for comment Wednesday, but the group defended itself in a statement posted on its Facebook page, saying it would "remain diligent in the resolution of any and all issues that affects the successful operation of Justice Rescue."

Bengal said that the PSPCA has received numerous complaints about Justice Rescue and that the group has not returned the pit bull or said where it is.


 @JasonNark

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