Dogs and cats in Schenectady County got a little safer earlier this month when the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals approved the creation of a branch society in Schenectady.
With the recognition, the Schenectady County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SCSPCA) is the only nonprofit law enforcement organization in the county with the mission to prevent, detect and arrest persons engaging in animal cruelty.
This SPCA has been in the works for over two years, said Chief Mathew Tully, who is also an attorney with his own private practice. "There are a lot of legal hurdles to clear because the SPCA is one of the only law enforcement entities not controlled by the government."
Tully said the SCSPCA is currently composed of two sworn peace officers who work closely with various police agencies throughout Schenectady County. These volunteer officers are fully trained, certified law enforcement personnel who have full police powers to arrest while investigating cases of animal cruelty.
Schenectady County Sheriff Harry Buffardi said his department would do what it could to assist Tully and SCSPCA.
"We can afford to assist them by providing them with training and our radio system," said Buffardi. "We can provide annual training for peace officers, updates in the law and needed links to communication. We intend to help any way we can."
Rotterdam Police Chief James Hamilton is hopeful his officers will benefit from the specific knowledge Tully and his SCSPCA officers have of animal crimes.
"We'd like to draw off their expertise," said Hamilton. "I'd like to put together a training seminar that we can send our officers to."
Tully began working as an SPCA officer in Suffolk County when he was 18.
A survivor of the World Trade Center attacks, Tully was an active SPCA volunteer, attending to the search dogs at Ground Zero.