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Niagara County SPCA appoints ‘Peace Officer’ to combat animal cruelty

Niagara County SPCA

The Niagara County SPCA has appointed a Peace Officer to help combat animal cruelty. The agent will fill a position that has been vacant due to budget constraints for two years.

Niagara County SPCA Shelter Manager Lauren Zaninovich was appointed to be the animal shelter’s new Peace Officer.

“Before we relied solely on the police departments in the jurisdiction that the cases were taking place, so instead of having to rely on those police departments we now have the authority. It's because I completed my Peace Officer training that we'll be able to move forward and investigate animal cruelty, and bring the bad guys in,” said Zaninovich.

The Peace Officer will be responsible for enforcing New York State’s Agriculture and Markets Animal Cruelty law and prosecuting those that commit cruel acts against animals.

“A lot of the cases we deal with are going to be abandonment, cases where animals are left outside without food, water or shelter. Animals that are not properly taken care of as far as vet services are concerned, animals that are injured where the owners are failing to take them to the vet or those seeking the care that they desperately need. That’s where we’re going to step in and make sure that people are going to be held responsible for their actions. If they’re going to own an animal they are going to be responsible about it,” said Zaninovich.

Zaninovich says she believes the position is crucial in the greater effort to reduce animal cruelty and neglect cases across the state.

“In any given day we can probably bring in about between 30 to 40 calls of just welfare checks alone… On top of that you have calls where animals are injured that you have to respond to or tenants moving out and leaving animals behind in apartment unit. The list goes on. So, it’s really hard to put a number on the number of calls [we receive],” said Zaninovich.

The shelter will continue to work with local and county law enforcement agencies on future cases if arrests must be made. Zaninovich says she’s looking forward to providing justice for animals, holding abusers accountable and raising the bar for animal owners everywhere.