Safety of Seized Dogs (Follow-Up)

Issued Date
June 18, 2019
Agriculture and Markets, Department of


To determine the extent of implementation of the three recommendations included in our initial audit report, Safety of Seized Dogs (Report 2017-S-49).

About the Program

Article 7 of New York’s Agriculture and Markets Law (Law) empowers the Department of Agriculture and Markets (Department) to set standards for the humane care of seized dogs and inspect municipal dog shelters outside of New York City. The Law mandates that a dog must be seized if it: is unlicensed; poses an immediate threat to the public safety; does not have an official identification tag while not on the owner’s premises; or is licensed but not in control of or on the property of the owner or custodian and is believed to be dangerous. Municipalities that issue dog licenses are required to establish and maintain a shelter for dogs or contract for those services. Municipalities are also required to appoint at least one dog control officer (Officer) or contract with another municipality for dog control services. The Law sets specific time periods that shelters must hold seized dogs, known as the redemption period, during which time the dog may be redeemed by its owner. The minimum period a seized dog must be held is five days. Dogs that are not claimed during the redemption period are put up for adoption, transferred to another shelter, or euthanized. The Law requires that seized dogs be properly sheltered, fed, and watered and receive proper care for the redemption period. Department guidelines specify that seized dogs must be properly cared for, including veterinary care.

The Department performs inspections of shelters to ensure that seized dogs are being treated correctly and held for the appropriate length of time. The Department also performs inspections of Officers’ records and equipment to ensure owners of seized dogs are properly notified and seized dogs are safely captured and transported. Department inspections are typically performed annually but may occur more frequently if necessary, such as when a shelter has received an unsatisfactory rating.

Our initial report, issued on April 16, 2018, determined the Department was adequately overseeing the seizure of dogs to ensure their safety and protect the rights of owners. However, we identified four relatively minor deficiencies at 4 of the 48 shelters we visited, including peeling paint, undersized cages, a leaking roof, and recently expired food. We also found nine seized dogs were not held for the full redemption period at eight shelters. The majority of the instances of premature disposition of the dogs were not identified in the Department’s most recent inspection reports for the respective shelters. Furthermore, our audit found 290 shelter and Officer inspections that exceeded the time frame for completion by 30 days or more, including 100 that followed a prior inspection with an unsatisfactory rating.

Key Finding

We found that the Department made progress in addressing the problems we identified in the initial audit report. Of the three prior audit recommendations, two were implemented and one was not implemented. 

Key Recommendation

Officials are given 30 days after the issuance of the follow-up report to provide information on any actions that are planned to address the unresolved issues discussed in this report.

Brian Reilly

State Government Accountability Contact Information:
Audit Director: Brian Reilly
Phone: (518) 474-3271; Email: [email protected]
Address: Office of the State Comptroller; Division of State Government Accountability; 110 State Street, 11th Floor; Albany, NY 12236