For most owners, their dogs are part of the family. Under Michigan law, however, dogs (and other companion animals) are classified as mere personal property. Ownership of a car may be proven by title registered with the Secretary of State. But how do you prove ownership of a dog?
The Michigan Dog Law of 1919 states that a dog is owned by “every person having a right of property in the dog… every person who keeps or harbors the dog or has it in his care, and every person who permits the dog to remain on or about any premises occupied by him.” So, what proof do you need to satisfy this definition? Good question. Michigan law is silent on what constitutes sufficient proof of dog ownership, leaving shelters and rescues to fill the void with individual policies and best practices.
The best way to prove ownership of your dog is to comply with legal requirements such as licensing and vaccination. Additionally, make sure your dog’s collar is secure and has current identification tags attached. Have your dog microchipped and keep a copy of any purchase agreement or adoption contract you receive.
If your pet is missing, contact your local animal control shelter immediately. County animal shelters place dogs with collars or other signs of ownership on “stray hold” for 7 days. Dogs without signs of ownership are held for only 4 days. After the stray hold expires, the dog is available for adoption.
Proof of licensing and vaccination should be sufficient to have your dog returned to you. If it’s not, contact our office at (248) 477-6300 to ask how we can help.