Stray dogs: a growing and expensive problem

13 Investigates: Communities grapple with stray dog problem

Stray dogs are a growing and expensive problem for local communities. It's so bad that some cities have had to keep dogs in their jail cells.

A dog recently spent the night in a Troy isolation cell because police had nowhere else to bring it.

Scroll Facebook, and you’ll see one police post after another about found dogs.

“It’s a big problem for us both financially, and it’s a problem also in terms of finding a place to put these dogs and the time that we take trying to get stray dogs off the street or out of abandoned buildings and getting them to where they can be taken care of,” said Cohoes Police Chief Todd Waldin.

Cohoes no longer has a contract with Mohawk Hudson Humane Society. Police said sometimes they have to put the dogs in their police holding cells, or pay to house them at a vet clinic.

“We did some things trying to get creative and trying to solve this problem,” said Waldin. “We bought a chip reader, hoping that some of the dogs we came across would have the chips implanted in them.”

“We bought some crates, got them down in the garage. It’s heated, and the officers after hours have been great, like I said, taking them out, feeding them, giving them water,” Cohoes Animal Control Officer Jerry Oliver said.

They’ve had to go as far as Utica to find agencies that will find the dogs homes.

Watervliet went from one animal control officer to three.

“We are outsourcing as much as we can,” said Watervliet Police Chief Joseph Centanni. “Mohawk Hudson, and we are contracted with them, if they do not have a bed, which is not uncommon, they’re full quite a bit, we will look for facilities in Saratoga County, Columbia County, and we have used a couple local boarding houses until we can get those dogs medically cleared and adopted.”

The city was billed almost $700 a month to house dogs at a local rescue. Watervliet has also had to use their holding cells, which the chief says are emptier now because of bail reform.

“Well, I’m happy to announce that of all of the pro-offender policies that were created that preclude law enforcement agencies from locking up criminals, we actually are using our holding facilities now for short-term shelter for those animals,” Centanni said.

A Troy police officer said several times, Mohawk Hudson locked the doors on them when they’ve tried to bring a dog.

“We have a contract with them, but we haven’t used them,” said Troy Mayor Carmella Mantello. “We’ve had one dog at the humane society since January 1.”

A Mohawk Hudson spokesperson confirmed that figure, adding “…we have more than 120 dogs currently in our care with capacity for just 86.”

There is a problem, said Troy Animal Control Officer Kevin McDonough.

“I take several animals a day, up to six, seven, eight in the summertime,” McDonough said. “Thank God, a couple of local kennels have stepped up to the plate and helped us out.”

Mantello put out a call for help.

“The good news: since the call out last week, we do have a couple non-profits who will partner with us,” said the mayor. “In the interim, a couple of local clinics are keeping the dogs for us, sheltering.”

However, that solution is not sustainable.

“We have a real problem here in the Capital Region and Troy. Where do we put our dogs? It’s a dilemma,” said Mantello. “We have found a band-aid right now, but long-term, we need to find a better solution.”

To help free up space at the shelter, there’s a plan for a kennel at the Albany County Jail.

Watch part 2 of this special 13Investigates report, Thursday on NewsChannel 13 and