Michigan Animal Shelter License Details & FAQ
: Does not expire/good for life
- Expires: Does not expire/good for life
- Fee: No fee
- Contact: Animal Industry Division at 1-517-373-1077
Who needs an Animal Shelter License?
An Animal Control Shelter is defined by state law as "a facility operated by a municipality for the impoundment and care of animals (dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, hedgehogs, sugar gliders, or any other non-rodent, non-livestock mammal) that are found in the streets or at large, animals that are otherwise held due to the violation of a municipal ordinance or state law, or animals that are surrendered to the animal control shelter." An Animal Protection Shelter is "a facility operated by a person, humane society, society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, or any other nonprofit organization for the care of homeless animals (dogs, cats, rabbits, ferrets, hedgehogs, sugar gliders, or any other non-rodent, non-livestock mammals)." You will need an Animal Shelter License to operate an animal control or animal protection shelter. Please note that organizations which operate solely via foster home rescues are exempt and do not need an Animal Shelter License.
What fees are required in order to operate an Animal Shelter in Michigan?
There is no fee required.
How Do I apply for an Animal Shelter License?
- Look over the Animal Shelter License application form. Familiarize yourself with the laws and regulations governing animal shelters, as well as the additional materials pertaining to animal shelters.
- Arrange for veterinary service for the animal shelter.
- Complete the application form providing all of the information requested. If a section is not applicable, please put a line through that section.
- Submit the completed application to:
Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development
Animal Industry Division
PO Box 30776
Lansing, MI 48909
- After your application has been approved and processed, a Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development (MDARD) employee will contact you to verify that your facility is ready for inspection. If the facility is ready for inspection, a MDARD inspector, typically a Field Veterinarian, will then contact you to set-up and conduct a pre-licensing inspection of the facility.
- Upon completion of the pre-license inspection, the inspection report is sent to the Lansing office for a manager's review. Once the facility has passed inspection and managerial review, an Animal Shelter License will be issued and mailed. Please note that if there are problems found either by the inspector or the manager, you will be given suggestions for improvement as well as a re-inspection date.
- After receiving the license, you may then operate an animal shelter.
How long does it take to process my first-time application?
MDARD strives to provide a timely response to animal shelter license applications. Typically it takes 4-8 weeks to receive a license.
Processing may take considerably longer if your application is incomplete for any of the following reasons:
- Portions of the application are left blank -- a letter and a copy of the application will be returned with to the sender with the blank fields marked. Please note that we must have a business phone number as well as veterinarian information. The application will not be processed until the form has been completed in its entirety and returned.
Your license can not be issued until you pass an inspection. As such, your license may also be delayed if your facility does not pass inspection or is not fully constructed. If your facility does not pass inspection, the department will provide feedback at the time of inspection for improvement as well as a re-inspection date.
You can help speed the processing of your application by being sure your application is complete and includes the correct fee; by thoroughly reviewing the laws, regulations, and other documents provided here; and by making sure your facility is constructed and ready for inspection.
If we have sent in an application, when can we begin operating an Animal Shelter?
Once you receive your license from MDARD, you may then begin to operate an Animal Shelter. You must not obtain or adopt out regulated animals (dogs, cats, rabbits, ferrets, hedgehogs, sugar gliders, etc) at your facility until you have received your shelter license.
When does my Animal Shelter License expire?
Your Animal Shelter License does not expire.
Is there anything I can do to speed the issuance of my license?
You can help speed the processing of your application by being sure your application is complete and includes the correct fee; by thoroughly reviewing the laws, regulations, and other documents; and by making sure your facility is constructed and ready for inspection.
What is an Annual Shelter Report?
Each year you must submit a copy of the past year's shelter statistics for your shelter. This is report is called the Michigan Annual Shelter Activity Report. This report must include the number of dogs, cats and ferrets 6 months of age and older, as well as the number under 6 months that were received, returned to owners, transferred (to another registered shelter, law enforcement agency, or service animal group), adopted, euthanized, or sold (to research) over the past calendar year. The report must also include the number of adopted dogs, cats, and ferrets that were adopted out intact and the number of adopted dogs, cats, and ferrets that were adopted out altered over the past calendar year. This report must be received by the department no later than March 31 of the year following the year for which the statistics were compiled. You may report via your own form, a form supplied by the Department, or electronically via the internet. You will receive a mailing each year, typically in the beginning of January, reminding you of the need to submit this information as well as a copy of the Department's reporting form and information to report electronically.
Each of the documents below contain individual Animal Shelter reports sorted by county. For hints on searching the document, use the question mark in the top right corner of the report.
What should I do if there are changes in veterinarian or in company ownership, name, or address?
A business is issued a license. If there is a change in business address or ownership, the license does not transfer. As such, the license for the old address/owner becomes inactive. When such a change occurs, the applicant must submit a new application with the new license fee immediately. We will need to conduct a new inspection to make sure that the facility meets the requirements of the regulations. In addition, we will review the requirements with the new owner at the visit. Once the facility has passed inspection and licensure has been approved by the program manager, a license will be issued for the new business location or owner. Once the license is received, the business may then operate as an Animal Shelter.
If your business changes its business name under which it is licensed, but remains under the same ownership and address, please submit a completed copy of the application reflecting the changes immediately so that the license and records can be updated accordingly. You will receive an updated license in the mail reflecting the change.
Under Law, an animal shelter must work with a veterinarian. This veterinarian must be cited on the application. If your business changes veterinarians, please submit a completed copy of the application reflecting the changes immediately so that we may update our records.
How do I file a complaint against an animal shelter?
Please contact the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development directly at (517) 373-1077 to file a complaint. Please have the name and location of the facility, as well as the time and date you were at the facility, if visited.
What Facilities are currently licensed as animal shelters?
See the Directory of Licensed Animal Shelters
Animal Welfare Fund
In 2007, a law went into effect to create the Animal Welfare Fund. This Fund was created to provide funding to help increase the number of sterilized and adopted animals, to educate the public and personnel on proper care of animals per anti-cruelty laws, to help fund the care of animals with respects to enforcement of the anti-cruelty laws, and to purchase supplies and equipment to assist with any of these goals. The law allows individuals to contribute via the yearly state tax form. The Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development is given the responsibility to offer and oversee these grants. MDARD will post a notice on this webpage with grant criteria when the grant application process is open.
Laws and Regulations
The laws relative to Animal Shelters are (follow the links):
- Pet Shops, Dog Pounds and Animal Shelters: Public Act 287 of 1969, as amended:
The primary law pertaining to pet shops. Among other things,this law specifies who does and does not need a pet shop license and it includes requirements for importing and selling puppies and kittens.
- Regulation 151 (Pet Shops, Dog Pounds and Animal Shelters):
Regulations and requirements for operating a licensed pet shop, dog pound or animal shelter. This is a very important regulation to read and understand, as it covers areas that MDARD Inspectors review when visiting these facilities.
- The Animal Industry Act: Public Act 466 of 1988, as amended:
Requirements for importing wild and exotic animals such as birds and reptiles.
- Public Act 33 of 2001
An excerpt from the amended Animal Industry Act (PA 466 of 1988).
- Large Carnivore Act: Public Act 274 of 2000
An Act to regulate the ownership, possession, and care of certain large carnivores.
- Wolf-Dog Cross Act: Public Act 246 of 2000
An Act to regulate the ownership, possession, and care of certain wolf-dog crosses.
- Bodies of Dead Animals: Public Act 239 of 1982
An Act to license and regulate animal food manufacturing plants, transfer stations, dead animal dealers, rendering plants, and certain vehicles.
- Regulations for Public Act 239 of 1982
Bodies of Dead Animals
- Use of Dogs and Cats for Research: Public Act 224 of 1969
An Act to license and regulate dealers in and research facilities using dogs and cats for research purposes; and to repeal certain acts and parts of acts.
- Regulation 150: Use of Dogs and Cats for Research
- Dog Law: Public Act 339 of 1919
An Act relating to dogs and the protection of livestock and poultry from damage by dogs; providing for the licensing of dogs; regulating the keeping of dogs, and authorizing their destruction in certain cases, etc.
- Liability of Owner for Dog Bite: Public Act 73 of 1939
An Act providing for the recovery of damages by persons bitten by dogs; and creating a liability of the owners of such dogs.
- Regulation 129: Governing Dog Kennels
- Registration and Identification of Dogs
An Act to provide for the regulation, registration, identification and licensing of dogs.
- Michigan Penal Code (Chapter IX animals): Public Act 328 of 1931 (as amended)
- Animals Running at Large: Public Act 328 of 1976
An Act to regulate animals running at large; to provide for compensation for damage done by animals running at large; to prescribe penalties; and to repeal certain acts and parts of acts.
- Dangerous Animals: Public Act 426 of 1988:
An Act to regulate dangerous animals; to provide for the confinement, tattooing, or destruction of dangerous animals; and to provide penalties for the owners or keepers of dangerous animals that attack human beings.
- The Turtle Act: Public Act 424 of 1988:
State requirements for the sale of small turtles. (Federal law covers to whom turtles may be sold, state law covers specifics about the sale.)
- The Ferret Act: Public Act 358 of 1994:
Legalized and controls the sale and breeding of ferrets.
- Sale of Baby Chicks, Rabbits, Ducklings, or Other Fowl or Game: Public Act 163 of 1945:
Prohibits the sale of dyed chicks, rabbits, ducklings, etc.
- Pseudorabies and Swine Brucellosis Control and Eradication Act: Public Act 239 of 1992:
Swine laws, pertinent for stores selling pot-bellied or other pet pigs.
- Rules of the Michigan Board of Pharmacy
For information on the laws pertaining to animal euthanasia training see sections R 338.3138 and R 338.3139.
- Public Health Code, Act 368 of 1978, as ammended, Section 7333
This discusses the requirements to administer euthanasia or tranquilize.
- Leader Dogs for Blind Persons, Act 207 of 1970
- Michigan Penal Code (excerpt), Act 328 of 1931
Person with disabilities or trainer led by guide, leader, hearing, or service dog; refusing entry to or use of public or private accomodations as misdemeanor; conditions; identification card; list; definitions.
- Public Act 117 of 2009
This law makes it illegal if a farm animal can not lie down, stand up, fully extend limbs, and turn around freely in its enclosure.