We are saddened to report George Bengal, Director of Humane Law Enforcement at the Pennsylvania SPCA and human and animal advocate for more than 20 years, passed away Saturday, June 18, 2016 at 69 after a fierce battle with mesothelioma.
PSPCA CEO Jeff Buckley said:
George Bengal was an icon, a fierce warrior against animal cruelty, and a street smart cop who led by example. The animals have lost their best friend and we have lost a most special colleague. His officers didn’t work under him. They worked next to him. [..] We always knew George was courageous in his work. But the way he faced his own death took courage to a new level.
He adds, “There will never be another George Bengal, but as he wanted us to, we will carry his mission forward in our efforts to put an end to all animal cruelty.” To George, there was little more important than developing and growing his program for the animals who need its voice—and for that we thank him from the bottom of our hearts.
George’s family asks that in lieu of flowers, you might consider supporting his mission by making a donation to The George Bengal Fund.
There are few people in this world willing to dedicate their hearts and lives to doing what is right by animals, by those who have no voice with which to change their own course. Fewer still have the thick skin and trained mind to withstand the psychological impact of these stories and the horrors that often accompany them.
George Bengal is the exception.
Since 2007, George has stood as the Director of Humane Law Enforcement at the Pennsylvania SPCA, manning an operation he himself created. There isn’t much he hasn’t seen or done—if approached with a case no ordinary person would believe, he’d likely be the one to say “Try me.”
At 69, George and his team have spent the past two decades saving both two and four-legged lives. They’ve answered calls to respond to animal fighting rings, cruelty cases in which animals were abused for sport, and instances of neglect and abandonment.
Many times they were forced to put their safety at risk, but to these trained heroes it was a small sacrifice in the wake of so much suffering. The opportunity to enforce animals’ humane treatment meant that nothing would stand in his way, and that is how it’s always been.
In one instance, George even protected FOX 29 Journalist Chris O’Connell during a violent attack at an animal hoarder’s home. “We have countless stories about George, but one sticks out in my mind because he literally saved us,” O’Connell told FOX 29. He continued:
[The police] jumped in and protected us from a very violent person. [George] made sure we made it to the police station. He made sure we were uninjured. […] He not only had a passion for helping animals but he also helped us as people and that’s what makes him the guy he is.
With 20 prior years’ experience as a Philadelphia police officer, George knows what it takes to get a situation under control—but his public service began long before that. He served in the Vietnam War around 50 years ago, where at some point he was exposed to asbestos.
Recently, George was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Doctors estimate he has only a few months to live, but it doesn’t mean he—or anyone else—is giving up. His friends, teammates, and coworkers gathered for an emotional tribute and farewell, as seen in the video below.
“For this cancer to develop, from what I’m being told,” George says, “it takes about 50 years from the time you’re exposed to the time it’s actually coming out in your system.”
He and his wife Carole know not to dwell on the prognosis, but to celebrate the impact of his work and the notable changes to come. “It’s unbelievable,” she says. “As his wife, I’m very proud. He’s my hero. I’ve gotten to share him with the world.” The George Bengal Fund now exists to carry out his legacy, dedicated to furthering the progress of humane law enforcement.
Unfortunately, because humane law enforcement is supported only by donors and is often difficult to enforce, many organizations have little choice but to abandon the cause. George is different: he and his team arrive prepared to make their voices heard in every situation.
If an animal is neglected, abused, or abandoned, this man will attempt to be a hero in any way he can. New cases of mistreatment give life every day to the importance of humane laws and the consequences for cruelty, and the fight is by no means lost.
We simply must promise to continue, if not for people like George, than to the voiceless who have so much life to live. To the animals’ hero who has never taken a vacation, thank you for everything you’ve done, and for the inspiration to continue in your footsteps.
To donate to the George Bengal Fund or send a personal message, please visit the PSPCA’s official page.