MENANDS, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The Mohawk Hudson Humane Society announced that a difficult decision has been made to only renew five out of its 21 municipal contracts for 2023. Administration at the Society attributes this decision to major increases in stray and animal cruelty intakes.

“We will maintain contracts with the five municipalities that produce the greatest number of strays in the region,” said CEO Ashley Jeffrey Bouck. “This includes the cities of Albany, Watervliet, Schenectady and Troy, and the Town of Colonie. In the past year, dog intake from just these five municipalities has increased more than 43%, and combined, stray dogs from these municipalities make up 90% of the Humane Society’s stray intakes.” 

The municipalities that will not be renewing contracts are Green Island, Cohoes, Bethlehem, North Greenbush, East Greenbush, Poestenkill, Town of New Scotland, Guilderland, Knox, City of Rensselaer, Westerlo, Stephentown, Brunswick, Glenville, Sand Lake, and Schodack.

Agriculture and Markets Law (AML) Article 7, §114 requires each town and city in which dog licenses are issued to establish and maintain a shelter for dogs, and establishes that the municipality is responsible for the dog from the time it is seized by the Dog Control Officer (DCO), or other authorized agent, until disposition by return to owner, adoption, transfer, or euthanasia. There are five ways a municipality can meet the sheltering requirement as outlined by Law:

  • Establish and maintain its own municipal shelter  
  • Join with another municipality to establish and maintain a shared shelter  
  • Contract with another municipality for use of its shelter services  
  • Contract with an incorporated humane society or similar incorporated association for shelter services    
  • Lease kennel space at a veterinary clinic, boarding facility, or the residence of another municipality’s dog DCO  

Glenville Town Supervisor Chris Koetzle said although their primary shelter is the Animal Protective Foundation in Schenectady, they don’t provide medical services. For those, they used to turn to MHHS.

“We’ll use probably one of the emergency animal hospitals in the community, like in Latham, but that’s a cost driver to the town because the town has to foot the bill for that if we can’t find the owner.”

The City of Cohoes is one of the larger municipalities that didn’t make the cut. Animal Control Officer Jerry Oliver was surprised when he heard the city could not renew its conract with MHHS. He said he has reached out to a few boarding facilities and veterinarians, hoping someone will open their doors.

“It puts us in a tight spot. Without them, we really have nowhere at this point that we’d be able to bring the animals to.”

Oliver said he hasn’t seen major increases in strays in Cohoes, but rather more sign-overs from people no longer able to afford their pets.

MHHS will be offering discounts for the holidays to try and help some pets get out of the totally full kennel.

“We do have an adoption special now through next Wednesday: 50 percent off all animals one year or older,” said Whitney Philippi, Vice President of Development at MHHS, “and I know there are some additional ones coming after that but we’re not announcing them yet.”

Philippi added that if you are not able to help by adopting, the society is looking for lots of volunteers and donations to its pet food pantry.

Municipal partners are encouraged to contact MHHS or the NY State Department of Agriculture & Markets if they have questions when identifying new sheltering options. As the SPCA for both Albany and Rensselaer counties, MHHS will continue to assist in investigating animal cruelty cases and identifying options for cruelty housing. MHHS thanks the municipalities for their work in building safer communities for animals and people.