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Dog Licensing

Dog LicenseIf you live in Michigan and own a dog that is 4 months of ago or older, you are required to have a dog license. Dog license tags are usually issued by your local Animal Services department, but they can also be managed by the County Treasurer's office.

Read on to find out where to get your license and why its so important.

Who needs a dog license?

By MI State Law, all dogs 4 months of age and older must have a license. Licenses are for each dog and cannot be transferred from one dog to another. If you have just moved to MI, you have 30 days to get your new dog license for this state. Dog licenses are different than a Rabies tag from the vet's office.

What is a dog license?

A dog license is a metal tag that goes on the collar of the dog it belongs to. The primary purpose of this tag is to verify that the dog has a current Rabies vaccine. The dog license is the only tag required to be kept on the collar of the dog and a dog without a tag can lead to citations and fines.

The dog license can be purchased for 1 or 3 years depending on the policy of the county in which you reside.

When should I get a dog license?

Every dog needs to be licensed at 4 months of age, or within 30 days of acquiring the dog or moving into MI. These licenses are renewed every 1 or 3 years depending on the policy of your own local authorities.

In Kalamazoo County, dog licenses are renewed annually between December 1 and March 1.

Where can I get a dog license?

In Kalamazoo County, licenses can be purchased year-round at Kalamazoo County Animal Services. The office is at 2500 Lake Street, Kalamazoo MI 49048 and is right next to the Kalamazoo County Fairgrounds. Between December 1 and March 1, tags are also available at most local vet clinics, and all City, Township and Village offices.

Southwest Michigan Area dog licensing agencies can be reached at the following numbers:

• Allegan County residents call the Allegan County Treasurer's Office at 269-673-0260
• Barry County residents call the Barry County Animal Control at 269-948-4885
• Berrien County residents call the Berrien County Animal Control at 269-471-7531
• Branch County residents call the Branch County Animal Control at 517-639-3210
• Calhoun County residents call the Calhoun County Treasurer's Office at 269-781-0807
(Residents in the Battle Creek City Limits must purchase from the Battle Creek City Offices)
• Cass County residents call the Cass County Treasurer's Office at 269-445-4468
• Kalamazoo County residents call Kalamazoo County Animal Services at 269-383-8775
• Kent County residents call the Kent County Animal Control at 616-632-7100
• St. Joe County residents call the St. Joe County Animal Control at 269-467-6475
• Van Buren County residents call the Van Buren County Treasurer's Office at 269-657-8228

Why do I need a dog license?

Dog licenses serve a number of purposes, but its important to understand the history behind the law. When the Dog Law of 1919 was written, which requires each dog to be licensed, Rabies was a devastating disease. To this day there is no cure for the Rabies virus, and while pets can be vaccinated for Rabies, the vaccine is only a prevention and is no guarantee that the pet cannot contract this deadly disease.

The State of Michigan then required a law for all dogs to be Rabies vaccinated. After the vaccination, it was further required that owners apply for a Dog License, which would be proof to the State that the dog was vaccinated. Individual vet clinics do not report Rabies vaccine records to the State of Michigan, and it was important for there to be a more centralized record keeping system for which dogs were vaccinated and licensed.

Dog Wearing LicenseSince then, Michigan is lucky to have very few animals testing positive for the Rabies virus. A large part of the reason is that Michigan was proactive in requiring animals to be vaccinated. Rabies is much more common in southern states and other countries where Rabies vaccines are not as closely monitored.

Part of the added benefit of having a dog licensed is that your pet has an ID tag on at all times. Countless dogs are returned to the owner without ever having to go to the shelter because they were wearing a Dog License.

If that isn't enough to inspire you to obey the law, consider the fees and fines and possible court/jail time if you don't get your license.