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The Legal Responsibilities of Owning a Pet
The State of Michigan requires ALL dogs over four months to be current with a rabies vaccine and to have a Michigan dog license. There are no laws in Michigan regarding cat ownership. However, abuse and neglect of any domestic animal is subject to criminal prosecution.
Michigan Criminal Code 750.50 outlines crimes against animals. Listed are some key, simplified points of the code. The below is for educational purposes only:
- Adequate care means the sufficient food, water, shelter, sanitary conditions, exercise, and veterinary medical attention in order to maintain an animal in a state of health.
- Neglect means to fail to sufficiently and properly care for an animal to the extent that the animal’s health is jeopardized.
- Sanitary conditions means space free from health hazards including excessive animal waste, overcrowding of animals, or other conditions that endanger the animal’s health.
- Shelter means adequate protection from the elements and weather conditions suitable for the age, species, and physical condition of the animal so as to maintain the animal in a state of good health. Shelter for livestock, includes structures or natural features such as trees or topography. Shelter, for a dog, includes a doghouse that is an enclosed structure with a roof and of appropriate dimensions for the breed and size of the dog. The doghouse shall have dry bedding when the temperature is or is predicted to drop below freezing.
- State of good health means freedom from disease and illness and in a condition of proper body weight and temperature for the age and species of the animal.
- Water means water that is suitable for the age and species of animal that is made regularly available.
What happens if the law is violated?
What should every animal be provided with?
- Food and water at all times. If an animal is being kept outside, then they should also have shelter.
- If a dog is tied outside, the tie must be at least three times the length of the dog from the tip of the nose to the base of the tail.
- Every animal must have appropriate veterinary care.
How is pet ownership determined?
My neighbor is an animal hoarder. What should I do?
Do not get involved in the situation or confront your neighbor. Instead, please try to give our Officer as much information as possible, including a phone number where they can reach you if they have further questions.
Hoarding animals usually indicates that a person is hoarding other items as well. This typically results in unsanitary living conditions for humans and animals. If there are minor children present in the home, we will contact the proper authorities.
What does Animal Control do when they get a complaint about a pet owner?
Animal Control Officers will visit the pet owner and speak to them or leave them a notice to call Livingston County Sheriff’s Office / Animal Control Division. Our Officer will then talk with the owner and investigate the nature of the complaint and request to view the animal if necessary.
Depending on the nature of the complaint, our Officers may educate the owner on responsible pet ownership. If the complaint is about a dog, our Officers will educate the owner about Michigan dog laws and make sure that the animal has a valid dog license.
Depending on what the Officer finds, the owner may be issued a warning or a ticket. If the investigation reveals serious abuse or neglect, we may prosecute the owner. The penalties for abuse and neglect vary. Finally, tickets range from $195 and up, while prosecution for abuse or neglect could result in jail time.