NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — An increased effort by the NYPD to stop animal cruelty has earned the department high praise from the nation’s leading animal rights group.

As WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reported, when Police Commissioner Bill Bratton took the reins in January, the handling of animal cruelty cases was transferred from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to the NYPD. It has been a huge success, according to ASPCA President Matt Bershadker.

“The police department went out there and are touching more animals than we can get to,” Bershadker said.

Bratton’s love of animals runs deep. He was a dog handler in the army.

“If my wife was not allergic to cats, I’d have ton of them,” Bratton said as he was honored by the ASPCA Thursday. “But unfortunately, she’s allergic to them, and it would be animal cruelty to own a dog with my schedule.”

The first six months of the partnership saw 70 arrests and over 200 animals rescued.

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