There is no state-wide law limiting the number of dogs you can own in
Michigan, so you will have to learn your municipality’s specific code. For several cities, however, a dog over the age of six months must be licensed, and no more than three licenses will be given to one owner.
With over 94% of Michigan’s land achieving rural status, dogs can play multiple major roles in helping their owners. From herding cattle to hunting rabbits, you may think you want all the dogs that can fit under your roof—but how many dogs are too many in Michigan?
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Does Michigan have laws limiting how many dogs you can own?
The short answer is that it depends on where in Michigan you live. There is no state-wide law limiting the number of dogs you can own, but every dog in Michigan must be licensed.
For a dog to obtain a license, it must be at least six months old and vaccinated against rabies. In cities like
Rochester Hillsand Allen Park, for example, owners will not be permitted to license more than three dogs. Per city ordinance, if you have more than three dogs you must file for a kennel license which labels your home as an animal boarding establishment.
Most dog licenses last one to three years and each municipality has different requirements regarding them, so be sure to inquire to avoid violating any rules.
Are there any dog breeds outlawed in Michigan?
Although an active topic in the Michigan government, there is no state-wide law prohibiting any specific breed of dog. Ownership of a wolf-dog hybrid, on the other hand, is subject to legal restrictions due to their territorial nature, as they can become aggressive around animals and people.
Many counties, cities, townships, and villages do have ordinances banning Pitbulls from being within their borders, as well. Here are a few specific areas that prohibit Pitbulls:
- Carson City
- Harper Woods
- Roosevelt Park
- Village of Breckenridge
Pitbulls are seen by many local governments as “dangerous dogs,” which are banned from even more Michigan municipalities. Michigan law determines a dog to be dangerous if they bite or attack a person or another dog, causing them to be seriously injured or killed.
There are, however, a few exceptions to the “dangerous” definition:
- If the dog bites or attacks a person that is knowingly trespassing on their owner’s property
- The dog bites or attacks a person who provokes or torments them
- The dog is responding in a manner that a reasonable person would conclude as protection of a person
What are the leash laws in Michigan?
You don’t need to be a seasoned dog owner to know that it doesn’t take much to catch a dog’s eye and make them want to chase after something. That’s why Michigan law states that dogs in public must be on a leash and controlled at all times.
According to the
Dog Law of 1919, every dog over the age of six months must always wear a collar with a tag approved by the director of agriculture. The only time a dog is permitted to walk without the restriction of a leash is when they are engaged in work such as farming, hunting, or other types of working dogs who are accompanied by their owner.
Designed for the safety of other people and the dog, leash laws help protect against the unpredictability of a dog running astray. If you do not follow the leash laws, legal ramifications can follow—and the situation gets a whole lot worse if your dog is considered to be dangerous.
Penalties for breaking dog laws in Michigan
Similar to any law violation, the punishment you face will depend on the severity of the violation. If a dog bites a person that was not provoking the dog, the owner is liable for any damages suffered regardless of if the dog was labeled as dangerous or not.
If an established dangerous dog attacks someone, the owner can face involuntary manslaughter, felonies, or misdemeanors charges. Below is a simple breakdown of crimes and charges:
- The owner of a dangerous dog that kills someone will face involuntary manslaughter charges.
- The owner of a dangerous dog that attacks someone, but does not kill them, will face felony charges and can serve up to four years in jail.
- The owner of a dangerous dog that attacks another person resulting in non-serious injuries will be guilty of a misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of 90 days in jail.
- The owner of a dangerous dog that allows their dog to run at large will also face misdemeanor charges.
The owner isn’t the only one who can face strict punishment for violations. Guilty dogs who don’t have a current rabies vaccine are required to quarantine at an animal shelter for 10 days, including impound fees for the cost. Your dog could even be put down if a court rules it necessary.
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