Dog License 101: What every dog owner needs to know

You have a dog.

You remembered to buy a leash and collar, dog food and treats, toys, cute little booties and jackets for walks in the rain and snow, a snuggly blankie and dog bed, flea prevention, 15 different sized and textured balls, a car seat if it’s a little fella’ and all of its shots are up to date.  What could possibly be missing?  The Dog License!  Which, ironically, is one of the cheapest things you need to purchase for your dog.

A dog license, much like a car registration or fishing license, is one of those things that the State of Michigan requires by law.  It isn’t optional, and the penalties can get pretty expensive if you are caught without it.

The State of Michigan wrote into law that each county is responsible for selling and maintaining record of every dog license.  These licenses are to be purchased for each dog aged 4 months or older.  While there is some variance from one county to another as to how licenses are sold, some things are the same everywhere in Michigan.

2015-12-30 12.48.58

The Purpose

Dog licenses started as a way for the state to keep better records of Rabies vaccinations at a time when Rabies was not as uncommon as it is today.  While Rabies still has no cure, thanks to preventative laws that require Rabies vaccines and dog licenses, it is extremely uncommon for domestic cats and dogs in Michigan to test positive.  There is a much higher occurrence of Rabies in bats and wildlife which can potentially be spread to domestic animals that come into direct contact.

Since this law was first passed in 1919, dog licenses are also recognized as the most basic form of ID you can put on your dog.  When dogs are found wearing a dog license, they are more likely to be returned to the owner before having to visit the stray animal shelter first.

Rabies Vaccines are Required

In order to get a dog license, your dog must currently Rabies vaccinated with at least 30 days left before that vaccine expires.  This means that if you try to buy a license today and your Rabies vaccine expires in 2 weeks, you will be denied until your dog is re-vaccinated.

If your pet cannot be vaccinated for any  medical reason, a veterinarian can give you a signed waiver on veterinary letterhead describing the reason for the inability to vaccinate, and the duration of this status (temporary issue or a lifetime condition).

Dogs that cannot be Rabies vaccinated must still be licensed.

Service Dogs Must Be Licensed

Service dogs are not exempt from licensing but may qualify for a free license.  Service dog owners are still required to Rabies vaccinate their dog and adhere to the licensing schedule just like any other dog owner.  Mental health and therapy dogs are not service dogs, with the exception of dogs prescribed for PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

For more information on service animals, please get the ADA Requirements at the ADA website:

To find out how to get a license for your service dog, contact your local Animal Control or Treasurer (whoever sells the licenses in your county) and ask what requirements you must meet to get a free service dog license.

Failure to Rabies Vaccinate and Failure to Buy Dog License

It is a misdemeanor offense if you are caught without a Rabies vaccine or dog license.

It’s possible to be written a citation and have to appear in court.  There could also be late fees and court fines associated with failing to comply with the law.

While many in Kalamazoo County are used to waiting for a “fix-it ticket” to comply, in 2015 Kalamazoo County Courts determined that Animal Services & Enforcement could no longer issue the fix-it tickets, and dog owners in violation should be issued a citation to appear in court immediately.

The Cost

Dog licenses in Kalamazoo County are $10 for an altered dog or puppy under 1 year old, or $40 for a dog that is at least 1 year old and unaltered.  Fees vary from county to county, so please find out from your local authorities what your cost will be.

Where To Get A Dog License

For Kalamazoo County Residents:

Mail in your proof of Rabies and application or renewal notice to:
Kalamazoo County Animal Services & Enforcement
2500 Lake Street, Kalamazoo MI  49048

Licenses can be purchased at the following offices:

  • Kalamazoo County Animal Services & Enforcement
  • Kalamazoo County Treasurer Office
  • All township/village/city halls in Kalamazoo County
  • The following vet clinics:2015-12-30 12.47.44
    • Animal Clinic
    • Creature Comfort
    • Crestview
    • Denney
    • East Main
    • Family Pet Health
    • Friendship Animal
    • Gull Lake Animal
    • Kalamazoo Animal
    • Lakeview Animal
    • Mattawan Animal
    • Milwood Animal
    • Oakwood Animal
    • Oshtemo Vet
    • Paw Paw Vet
    • Pet Vet
    • Portage Animal
    • Red Arrow
    • Richland
    • Schoolcraft Vet
    • Shaver Road
    • Sprinkle Road
    • Texas Corners
    • Visiting Vet
    • West Main
    • Woodland

Residents outside of Kalamazoo County should check with your own licensing agent to find out more about fees and due dates.  Here’s a quick list of who to contact:

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



  1. Reblogged this on Kalamazoo Humane Society and commented:

    Happy “First Day of Licensing Season” Day! This is a reblog from our 2016 licensing guide but all the same information still pertains for 2017. For questions about licensing your dog, feel free to ask us or contact your local animal services agency. Happy licensing!


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