Are you the worried owner of a strayed pet, or the good Samaritan who just found someone's lost pet? Let us help you through what comes next.
First Things First
Step 1: Call your local animal control officer and report your pet missing. You will need to provide the approximate date and time your pet went missing and a physical description of your pet.
Step 2: Visit our stray pets >> page, where we courtesy-host photos of stray pets for more than 20 local municipalities. If you see a pet that resembles yours, email us right away at firstname.lastname@example.org >> to find out which municipality you will need to contact to begin the redemption process.
Redeeming Your Stray Dog
Reach out to the clerk for the municipality that has seized your stray/at-large dog. They will provide redemption process details specific to their municipality.
At minimum, New York State requires:
- Up-to-date rabies vaccination
- A valid dog license
- Payment in full of any fees/fines owed to the municipality
These requirements must be fulfilled before the end of the redemption period, or your dog is legally forfeited to the municipality that seized it. The dog redemption periods are as follows:
- Dog wearing a municipal tag at time of seizure: 7 days if notified by direct means, 9 days if notified by certified mail
- Dog without municipal tag at the time of seizure: 5 days
Once state and municipal requirements are satisfied, the Clerk will send MHHS permission to release the dog to you. MHHS requires valid state or federal photo identification at the time of pickup. Please also bring a fixed-length leash.
Redeeming Your Stray Cat
If you see your stray cat on our webpage, reach out to us at email@example.com >> so that we can tell you if the cat was brought to us by a Good Samaritan or by a municipal agent, and which municipal agent.
- Good Samaritan: You can reclaim your cat directly from MHHS. We require proof of rabies vaccination, proof of ownership (photos, veterinary records, proof of adoption or purchase), and valid state or federal photo ID. The redemption period for cats varies between municipalities.
- Municipal Agent: You must call the clerk for the municipality that seized your cat for redemption instructions and appropriate redemption periods. The redemption period for cats varies between municipalities.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: I see my dog is at the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society (MHHS). Did MHHS seize my dog?
A: No. MHHS is housing your dog for the municipality (village, town, or city) that seized it for violation(s) of NYS Agriculture and Markets Law or local law/ordinance/code related to the control of dogs.
Q: What fees will I owe to redeem my pet?
A: Fees charged vary by municipality. Only the municipal clerk can calculate the fees you will owe. MHHS has no control over the fees and cannot negotiate on behalf of any owner or municipality.
Q: What if my pet does not have an up-to-date rabies vaccination?
A: MHHS can provide a rabies vaccination to your pet for a fee through our low-cost vaccine program >>. You will need to provide proof of ownership in order for us to proceed. We will accept veterinary records, proof of purchase or adoption, and identifying photos.
Q: How long will I have to redeem my cat if they are brought in as a stray?
A: Typically the deadline for the redemption process for stray cats is 3-5 days, but you will need to check with the specific municipality in which your pet was found.
Q: What happens if I do not complete the redemption process by the deadline?
A: Stray dogs are forfeited under Agriculture and Markets Law and become the property of the municipality. The same applies to stray cats seized by a municipality. Cats brought in to the shelter by a Good Samaritan become property of the shelter.
Q: Can I adopt my pet back after the redemption period has ended?
A: No. MHHS will not adopt a pet to a former owner who has not met the NYS requirements for redemption, nor to any member of that owner's household.
The information on this page does replace any written law or regulation. The following links will take you to the relevant sections of NYS Agriculture and Markets Law, which is the authoritative resource on these processes.
Licensing, Identification and Control of Dogs >>
Animal Cruelty Law >>
- Do: Call animal control or the non-emergency police department phone number for the location in which you spotted the dog.
- City of Albany: 518.462.7107
- City of Rensselaer: 518.462.7451
- City of Troy: 518.270.4411
- City of Schenectady: 518.382.5200 ext 5655
- City of Watervliet: 518.270.3833 ext 362
- Do Not: Bring the dog directly to the shelter. NYS requires all stray dogs be brought in by Animal Control or the Police. If you bring the dog directly to the shelter, you will be redirected back to animal control.
- Do: Share photos and information about the dog you found on local lost-and-found pet sites and Facebook pages.
- Do Not: Attempt to capture or restrain a stray dog that is fearful or does not willingly approach you.
- Do: Share photos and information about the cat you think is a stray on local lost-and-found pet sites and Facebook pages.
- Do Not: Assume a cat is stray simply because it is outside and friendly. Some people allow their cats outside to wander, and a friendly cat outdoors may still be near its home.
- Do: Call animal control in the area in which you found the cat and ask if it is their policy to shelter stray cats. If they do not, and you are confident that the cat is stray and not owned or feral, then you can bring the cat to the shelter.
- Do Not: Bring feral cats to the shelter. For their own health and safety, we cannot accept feral cats.
It can be difficult to determine if a cat is stray or feral at first glance. The differences are important though, because feral cats do not do well in a shelter environment. Here are some tips to determine if a cat is stray or feral.
Stray cats have been socialized by humans at some point and have somehow lost their home. Stray cats typically (though not always) vocalize and approach for food and attention. A stray cat can be successfully handled in a shelter and placed in an adoptive home. A stray cat is considered owned by you if you have taken responsibility for feeding and sheltering it for a period of 14 days or greater.
Feral cats are not human-social, are fearful of people and prefer to live outdoors in the company of other cats. Feral cats cannot be handled in an animal shelter, as they are fearful of human contact and will injure themselves to avoid it. The stress of being in the shelter and being handled by humans also leads to increased risk of illness for feral cats who are more difficult to treat and vaccinate. This is why shelters often do not accept feral cats. There are local groups that specialize in helping communities with feral cat colonies.
We are not authorized to accept wildlife. Please visit the following sites for information on what to do if you find a wild animal in need of help:
Animal Help Now >>
Capital District Veterinary Referral Hospital >>
NYS Department of Environmental Conservation >>
NYS Wildlife Rehabilitation Council >>
The Animal Hospital, Slingerlands >>