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Animal Shelters

Who needs an Animal Shelter Registration?

A municipality that operates a housing facility for the impoundment and care of dogs, cats, and other specific animals that are:

  • strays, lost, or surrendered by their owners,
  • impounded or otherwise being held for animal law violations.

A person, a business, or a non-profit organization that operates a housing facility for the care of dogs, cats, and other specific animals that are:

  • surrendered by their owners,
  • transferred or adopted from other shelters and otherwise homeless.

Housing facilities includes a separate room, building, or area used to contain a primary enclosure(s) such as cages, kennels, or community cat rooms. Organizations that operate solely through a network of foster homes where the animal lives in the home as their pet would do not qualify for a shelter registration as they do not have a housing facility.

How Do I Apply for a Registration?

Contact the Animal Industry Division at 517-284-5769, 800-292-3939, or via email: for more information regarding operating an animal shelter and the specific facility requirements.

Complete the Animal Shelter Registration Application (Form AH-025) and submit to our Lansing Office.  Once the application is found to be complete, it will be forwarded to program staff to initiate an inspection.

Your shelter must pass a facility inspection before a registration will be issued, therefore it should be reasonably ready at the time you apply for the registration.

Resources & Forms for Registered Shelters

*NEW* Public Act 287 was recently updated and changes were made to the importation requirements for dogs and cats going to animal shelters. There are now age-related, vaccination and treatment requirements.

For animal shelters that receive animals from other states, importation requirements for specific animals can be found on MDARD's animal movement pages. See the handouts below that summarize the specific import requirements for cats and for dogs.

Each registered shelter is required to annually report their animal statistics for the prior year by March 31st of the subsequent year. The statistics are a portion of the records that shelters are required to keep for at least two years. The report elements focus on companion animals by age and alteration status at the time of adoption. Other information includes total number of animals adopted, transferred to other registered shelters, reunited with their owners, and euthanized.

Forms for Registered Shelters

Individual Annual Reports

Animal Shelter Resources

Animal Welfare Fund 

Laws and Regulations

The most frequently-used laws and regulations regarding animal care, shelters, shelter animals, and animal control agencies:

Pet Shops, Dog Pounds and Animal Shelters: Public Act 287 of 1969, as amended
Defines control shelters, protection shelters, requires registration, identifies import requirements for cats and dogs to Michigan pet shops.

Regulation 151 (Pet Shops, Dog Pounds and Animal Shelters):
Contains animal care, facility, personnel, and recordkeeping requirements for operating an animal shelter. It covers the compliance areas that MDARD field staff review when visiting shelters.

Registration and Identification of Dogs; Public Act 309 of 1939
Requires reporting of stray dog to local animal law enforcement agency within 48 hours.

Michigan Penal Code (Chapter IX animals): Public Act 328 of 1931 (as amended)

Provides minimum standard of care for animals, defines animal neglect, defines animal cruelty, and provides penalties.

How Do I File A Complaint About A Shelter?

If you have concerns about the care of the animals and the conditions of an animal shelter, you may file an online complaint with MDARD. Please include the name and location of the facility, the time and date you were at the facility, and specific animal information (for example: black & white small dog in the adoption ward "Freddy.")

If you have an animal welfare complaint involving a pet store, kennel, breeder, or livestock animals, you need to contact the local animal law enforcement agency (animal control, sheriff, police) where the facility is located for potential penal code and/or local ordinance violations. For more information regarding animal control agencies in Michigan, please see:

Please contact the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development directly at 800-292-3939 with additional questions.