Michigan dog owners are required by law to acquire and pay for licenses for each of their dogs annually. Did you know that failure to meet these requirements could result in a criminal misdemeanor conviction for the dog owner?
The Dog Law of 1919 was originally passed one hundred years ago to protect livestock from stray dogs, but has since been modified to require all dogs in the state to be licensed.
- It is unlawful for any person to own any dog 6 months old or over unless that dog is licensed and is, at all times, wearing a collar with a tag approved by the Michigan Department of Agriculture (unless that dog is engaged in lawful hunting accompanied by its owner or custodian). MCL 287.262.
- Owners must apply to the county treasurer where they live for a license of each dog owned or kept by him or her by March 1st of every year (unless the county board of commissioners adopts a resolution specifying a different date). MCL 287.266(2).
- "The application shall state the breed, sex, age, color, and markings of the dog, and the name and address of the last previous owner. Except as otherwise provided in this subsection, the application for a license shall be accompanied by a valid certificate of a current vaccination for rabies, with a vaccine licensed by the United States department of agriculture, signed by an accredited veterinarian. The certificate for vaccination for rabies shall state the month and year of expiration for the rabies vaccination, in the veterinarian's opinion. If the application for a license is submitted electronically, the owner of the dog is not required to provide a valid certificate of a current vaccination for rabies if the dog was licensed the previous year and the dog's current rabies vaccination on record with the treasurer of the city, county or township where the owner resides is still valid." MCL 287.266(5).
- "For a spayed or neutered dog, the license fee, if any, shall be set lower than the license fee for a dog that is not spayed or neutered." MCL 287.266(5).
- "The county board of commissioners may set license fees in the county budget at a level sufficient to pay all the county's expenses of administering this act as it pertains to dogs." MCL 287.266(5). As a result, the costs of dog licensing vary greatly from county to county:
- In Monroe County, dog licenses are $15.00 in 2019 ($7.50 for spayed and neutered dogs).
- In Oakland County, dog licenses are $18.00 in 2019 ($10.50 for spayed and neutered dogs, $9.75 for senior citizen dog owners).
- In Lenawee County, dog licenses are $10.00 each in 2019 whether the dog is spayed, neutered or not.
- In Genesee County, dog licenses are $30.00 in 2019 ($10.00 for spayed and neutered dogs).
- In Washtenaw County, dog licenses are $12.00 in 2019 ($6.00 for spayed and neutered dogs).
- In Macomb County, dog licenses are $30.00 in 2019 ($10.00 for spayed and neutered dogs).
- In Wayne County, dog licenses are $15.00 in 2019 ($10.00 for spayed and neutered dogs).
- "A person who becomes owner of a dog that is 4 or more months old and that is not already licensed shall apply for a license within 30 days. A person who owns a dog that will become 4 months old and that is not already licensed shall apply for a license within 30 days after the dog becomes 4 months old." MCL 287.268.
- Each dog license issued must display the expiration date (which is the earlier of either one year or three years after the license was obtained or the expiration date of the dog's rabies vaccination), a serial number corresponding to the number on the metal tag, the name of the county issuing the license and a full description of the dog licensed. MCL 287.269.
- A person who owns or harbors a dog shall produce proof of a valid dog license upon request of a person who is authorized to enforce the Dog Law of 1919. MCL 287.269a. Authorized persons include any person employed or elected by the state or any political subdivision, any peace officer, sheriff deputy, conservation officer and any member of the state police.
Any person who violates or refuses to comply with the licensing provisions of the Dog Law of 1919 is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine not less than $10.00 but not more than $100.00, or up to three months in jail, or both. MCL 287.286.
Owners are required to license their dogs whether or not it is kept as a pet, a farm animal or a service animal. Although many Michigan counties report widespread non-compliance with this law (only 4% to 15% of dogs being licensed), you can be sure to expect a citation if your dog is not properly tagged at the wrong place and the wrong time. The annoyance of fighting a misdemeanor charge in court is far outweighed by taking a few minutes each year to renew the license at the appropriate county office.
If you have further questions about Michigan's dog license requirements, then do not hesitate to contact the experienced attorneys at Kershaw, Vititoe & Jedinak PLC today.