Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
Jessica Ziehm

August 13, 2010

New York State to No Longer Administer Dog Licenses in 2011

Effective Jan. 1, Municipalities Will Assume Responsibility for Renewals, Tags & Database

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker today announced that effective January 1, 2011 the State will no longer be involved in the licensing of dogs.  Introduced as part of Governor David A. Paterson’s budget and approved by the State Legislature, this change will require municipalities to assume the remainder of the dog licensing function, saving the State over $325,000 annually and giving localities the opportunity to nearly double their revenue from dog license fees to cover costs associated with this new responsibility.

“At a time when government is actively searching for cost savings and limiting services to those that protect public health and safety, it is a no-brainer for the State to get out of the dog licensing business,” Commissioner Hooker said.  “Our state veterinarian’s core mission is to prevent highly-contagious animal and human diseases like Avian Influenza, Tuberculosis and Chronic Wasting Disease.  We needed to make common-sense program reductions so that these important programs would not be jeopardized.  The Department of Agriculture and Markets has been working diligently in communicating with local government stakeholders to notify them of this change to help ensure a smooth transition.”

            Historically, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets has been the entity to provide dog tags, issue license renewals and maintain a central dog licensing database.  When this law goes into effect on January 1, 2011, dog licensing will continue to be required in New York State, however local municipalities will assume those duties, as well retain the entire dog license fee.  Currently, dog license fees are shared by three levels of government – the local municipality gets 53 percent, the county is given 30 percent and the State keeps 17 percent.  In addition, dog license fees and other program requirements will no longer be mandated by law, rather the local licensing municipality will be able to set its own fees and tailor dog programs to meet the unique characteristics of its community. 

            As promised during outreach sessions with various stakeholders, the Department will be providing all municipal clerks, mayors and supervisors, dog control officers, county treasurers and contracted animal shelters with a “Municipal Dog Licensing Toolkit.” Designed to aid in the transition of responsibilities, the toolkit will include a model local law, sample licensing forms, potential vendors for databases and dog tags, a copy of the new law, and guidance documents outlining how the new law will affect dog owners, animal shelters and the Animal Population Control Fund.  Portions of the toolkit are currently posted online at and will be mailed directly to stakeholders in the next week.  Updates and additional information will be added periodically.

The Animal Population and Control Program (APCP) will also no longer be administered by the Department effective January 1, 2011.  However to ensure the continuation of this popular program, the Department will competitively seek an entity to carry out the APCP.  The APCP provides low cost spay or neuter surgery for dogs and cats adopted from New York shelters or owned by those from low-income households.  Revenue for this program will be collected at the local level, where municipalities will be required by the new law to collect a surcharge of at least $1.00 on licenses for altered dogs and at least $3.00 on licenses for unaltered dogs.  Surcharges for the APCP will be allowed to be retained by the licensing municipality for the first time if the county has an approved plan; otherwise the surcharges will go into a state fund and be dispersed by the selected administrative entity.

            Today, there are 600,000 dogs licensed in New York State, not including New York City.  Of those, 80 percent are spayed or neutered with a base fee of $2.50 per license, and 20 percent are unsprayed or unneutered with a base fee of $7.50 per license.

            Dog licensing in New York State dates back to 1894 when the law was first enacted in New York City.  In 1917, New York State adopted its first uniform statewide provisions, driven by the need for livestock indemnity.  Since that time, the need for livestock indemnification, as well as the concern for rabies in dogs has diminished significantly.  The base rate for a dog license is $2.50 in New York State, which is only 25 cents more than it was 80 years ago.

2010 Press Releases