Maine Department of Agriculture Commissioner Walter Whitcomb announced Wednesday, Aug. 31 the hiring of a new director for the Animal Welfare Program. Liam Hughes will assume his new position as Maine’s animal welfare director on Sept. 6.

As the state’s animal welfare director, Hughes will be responsible for supervising and directing staff, policy development, and program legislation, as well as for overseeing all phases of animal cruelty and neglect investigations.

He will also be responsible for working with numerous cities, towns, civic organizations, and schools, according to a Department of Agriculture press release, and will be representing the department on various animal welfare boards, both national and statewide.

The press release reports that Hughes brings with him a wealth of knowledge and experience in the animal welfare field. Currently, he is the director of animal control field services for the Washington Humane Society, in Washington, D.C. Hughes supervises seven animal control officers who respond to an average of 16,000 calls per year.

His accomplishments include developing new rescue protocols for officers in chemical immobilization, rope rescue, and emergency vehicle operations, and a demonstrated ability to work across various agencies. Hughes has also developed and implemented community outreach plans, improved officer training programs, and started joint training programs with the police and fire departments.

“We are confident that Liam’s extensive experience and background in the field of animal welfare and cruelty investigations will be of great benefit to Maine’s Animal Welfare Program,” said Division of Animal and Plant Health Director David Lavway, in the press release. “Notably, Liam comes to the job with excellent recommendations from officials at the highest levels of Washington, city, and federal government.”

Preceding his work at the Washington Humane Society, Hughes worked for several animal welfare groups and agencies in a variety of capacities. He was an animal care supervisor at the Cheyenne Animal Shelter in Cheyenne, Wyoming; an animal control officer and animal cruelty investigator for South Jersey Animal Services in Ocean City, N.J.; and the shelter manager for Beacon Animal Rescue in Upper Township, N.J.