MENANDS, N.Y. (News10)-The Mohawk Hudson Humane Society held a swearing-in ceremony for four staff members who recently completed peace officer training. The officers are now among 8 peace officers with the shelter who will assist law enforcement on cases of animal cruelty, neglect, hoarding or abandonment which may require animal removal, housing, etc.

Nikki Gagnon, the shelters current community outreach manager is one of the new recruits. “Now that we are peace officers we can kind of help build a case if we are to go forward and press charges of cruelty,” said Gagnon.

She now joins a total of 8 peace officers with the shelter in Menands after completing 160 hours of training with the Albany County Sheriff’s Office. “It’s not just a nice little badge,” said Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple. “They can actually affect an arrest. That’s why they have to go through the training. Very similar to law enforcement training.”

These peace officers collaborate with law enforcement providing vital services like animal handing in cases of cruelty, hoarding or abandonment. They also specialize in Agriculture and Markets laws, something that police officers are not always trained in. “Be that person who can show up on scene. Assist the local law enforcement officers and provide guidance,” said Andrew Fiumano, the shelter’s director of Outreach and Humane Law Enforcement. Fiumano says their ultimate goal is to lend a helping hand to pet and animal owners who may also be struggling. “The way I look at it, if we need to make an arrests that means we have not succeeded in other aspects of our job. I want us to be able to intervene. To provide access to veterinary services, food, shelter and be that support network for these people and these animals.”