Sept. 28, 2012: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.

Nikka is the only qualified member of the Vaugh, N.M., police force.

New Mexico Police Department Goes to  . . . the Dog

When the chief of police in Vaughn, N.M., resigned this week, it left only one certified member of the small town’s police force in charge — Nikka, the drug-sniffing canine. Chief Ernest "Chris" Armijo’s resignation followed reports that he wasn’t allowed to carry a gun because of his criminal background. The town’s other human officer isn’t certified, making Nikka the only qualified member of the Vaughn force. But residents say that they aren’t worried. With a population of only 450, "there's just a whole lot of nothing going on here," said Joyce Tabor, a cook at a local diner. — Read it at the AP via ABC News, and watch recent video of Nikka from New Mexico’s KRQE

Pet Halloween Costume Spending Expected to Jump 20 Percent

The economy may be suffering, but companies that create trick-or-treat attire for man’s best friend aren’t feeling the pinch. According to the National Retail Federation, spending on Halloween gear for dogs — and some lucky cats — is expected to hit a record $370 million this year, topping last year’s $310 million total. "People just don't skimp on their pets," says federation spokesman Michael Gatti. "They'll cut corners on themselves, but not on their pets." — Read it at USA Today

Dog Rescues Elderly Owner — Lassie Style

Toby, a Lhasa Apso, knew exactly what to do when his owner, Derek Ramsden, fell into sinking mud while on vacation in Wales, England. The 81-year-old struggled to hold onto a railing, while his pooch ran a quarter of a mile to get help from the security staff at the inn where Ramsden and his wife were staying. "Toby had barked anxiously at the staff. They must have known there was a problem and followed him back to me,” said Ramsden, who only suffered some bruising from the ordeal. “Toby led the way and kept stopping for helpers to catch up . . . He's my very own Lassie. He saved my life and I'm very grateful.” — Read it at The Telegraph

Brits Battle Over Badgers

For some people in the U.K., badgers are beloved. But for dairy farmers, the animals are a threat because they expose cows to bovine tuberculosis. So this month, the British government issued licenses that allow trained marksmen to wipe out 70 percent of the protected species' population in two pilot areas, resulting in protests from animal lovers. — Read it at NPR

Kim Kardashian's kitten, Mercy.

Is Kim Kardashian Turning Into a Crazy Cat Lady?

Lately, the headlines about this celebrity have focused on her new love — a Persian kitten named Mercy. But this doting mom is starting to get concerned that she’s been a little too zealous about her kitty. "I just hope I'm not turning into one of those cat ladies that's Tweeting too many pictures of her pet!" she told People. "I have always wanted a white Persian cat with light eyes. That was my thing." The feline was a gift from her other love interest, singer Kanye West. — Read it at People Pets

Viral Photo Helps Extend Arthritic Dog’s Life

Remember that touching pic of a 19-year-old dog named Schoep who was photographed floating in Lake Superior with his owner, John Unger, in an effort to alleviate the dog’s arthritis pain? After the photo took the Internet by storm over the summer, donations to help Schoep poured in, enabling Unger to take his dog for treatments that have improved his life. “I’ve taken him for walks on trails that we haven’t been on in three years. He’s not dragging his back legs like he was before. To be able to do that again with him, words can’t even describe the feeling,” Unger told Today. Since more money has come in than Unger needs, he’s set up the nonprofit Schoep Legacy Foundation, which has already collected $25,000 for the improvement of animal and human welfare. — Read it at Today

Girl Has a Close Encounter With a Beluga Whale

Juno, a 1,320-pound beluga at the Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut, took a liking to 3-year-old Veronica Antov. Her father snapped several incredible pictures of the whale investigating the little girl on the other side of the glass — and Veronica was charmed by the beluga, too. — See the photos at Animal Tracks