Are some New York shelters too quick to euthanize dogs?
Apr 18, 2018
New York's seized dogs need better protection against being euthanized or transferred, according to a new report from the state Comptroller's Office.
The report released Monday found animal shelters are taking adequate care of seized dogs, but some of the dogs were not being held for the required holding period before being euthanized or transferred elsewhere.
“The state is doing a commendable job making sure local animal shelters are providing dogs with safe conditions and the care they deserve,” said state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli in a statement.
“However, state officials and local shelters can improve how they track and document each dog that comes into their care to ensure dogs are not wrongly euthanized.”
A dog can be seized by authorities and brought to a shelter if it is found unlicensed, found to be a threat to public safety or not wearing proper identification while a dog is not on its owner's property.
The law requires the dogs be held for a minimum five-day redemption period.
Dogs that are not claimed by their owners during that time can be put up for adoption, transferred to another shelter or euthanized.
From January 2015 to June 2017, the state looked at 48 animal shelters of the 294 outside of New York City.
Auditors found nine incidents of seized dogs that had not been held for the required redemption period in eight shelters -- by either being transferred or put down.
At the Carmel Animal Hospital in Putnam County, a dog that had been seized was transferred only four days later. The facility declined comment Tuesday.
At the Donald Vought shelter in Otsego County, a seized dog was transferred on the same day.
At the New Rochelle Human Society in Westchester, now called the Humane Society of Westchester, a dog was adopted four days after being seized.
The facility said the circumstances were different than auditors concluded.
“The dog was abandoned in our front pen with a bag of food and a leash, so it wasn’t a seized dog,” said Dana Rocco, the shelter manager at the Humane Society of Westchester.
“We counted from the day it came in as five days; we didn’t realize New York state counts it as five 24-hour periods not just five days. The dog was placed very successfully, never got a call of somebody looking for their dog. It was quite apparent that whoever left it overnight did not want it.”
At Stray Haven Humane Society in Tioga County, there was an incident of a seized dog being held and transferred to another shelter on the same day.
The society said the case appeared to a situation of where the dog was simply returned to the owner.
At Susquehanna Animal Shelter in Otsego, there was one incident of a seized dog being transferred after two days, as well as another incident of a seized dog that was euthanized on the day it was brought in.
The facility could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
In the inspections, all shelters were found to be providing their animals with the necessary food, water and medical care, but a few shelters were cited for minor improper conditions.