With friends like Ventura County Dist. Atty. Michael D. Bradbury, the local chapter of the Humane Society doesn't need enemies.
Bradbury, a Humane Society member who was recently invited to the group's fifth annual Christmas raffle, has told organizers that the event is illegal.
A century-old state law prohibits any game in which chances at winning a prize are sold or exchanged for something of value, he said.
"They were extremely cooperative and agreed not to do the raffle," Assistant Dist. Atty. Colleen Toy White said. "But it was awkward. This just had not come to our attention before."
Humane Society officials, who had hoped to raise $10,000 to $15,000 from the raffle, said the Dec. 11 event had been one of their biggest fund-raisers.
'A Big Hurt'
"This is really devastating for us," said Jolene Hoffman, director of the organization, adding that the revenue amounts to about 3% of the society's annual operating budget.
"We'll be able to continue providing the same services we're providing right now," she said. "But it's definitely a big hurt."
The district attorney's office sends such warnings to nonprofit groups in the county so frequently that a form letter has been drafted explaining the law, White said.
Most of the organizations readily cancel, White said, adding that she could not recall ever prosecuting a nonprofit group for such a violation.
"It's usually a case where they are just not aware of the law," she said. "The role we take is really just educational."
The Humane Society runs a shelter and cares for lost and abused animals.