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The 3 Laws Michigan Dog Owners Need to Know

Michigan is a dog lover’s paradise, with legislation designed to protect both human and canine welfare and to deal with dog-related problems including bites, attacks, and disturbances. Every dog owner in the state needs to familiarize themselves with these rules. The following three important laws are things Michigan dog owners need to know:

1. Vaccination and Licensing Obligations

Dogs six months of age and older are required under the Dog Law of 1919 to be vaccinated against rabies and to get a license from their local government. Owners must provide proof of immunization and pay the necessary cost in order to obtain a license. License renewals might happen every year or every two years, depending on the municipality. Dogs must always be wearing a collar with a tag that has their license number and owner’s name on it, with the exception of legitimate hunting and training operations. Punishments, impoundment, or, in extreme circumstances, euthanasia could follow noncompliance.

2. Leash and Tethering Guidelines

While there isn’t a state leash legislation in Michigan, many municipalities and communities have their own laws requiring dogs to be properly confined or leashed while they aren’t on their owners’ property. There are few exceptions, such as when a working dog—such as a guiding dog, guard dog, farm dog, or hunting dog—is working under the owner’s supervision. Furthermore, regardless of local leash rules, female dogs in heat must be leashed outside the owner’s property.

State law and various local legislation govern the tethering or chaining of dogs outside. Penal Code 750.50 stipulates that the tether must be at least three times the dog’s body length in order to allow the dog to move freely inside the tethered area. To ensure the comfort of the dog, it must be attached to a collar or harness that fits properly. There must be sufficient resources available for veterinary treatment, food, water, and shelter. It is against the law to tether a pet for more than seven hours a day or during severe weather. Violators risk fines and charges for animal cruelty.

3. Dog Bite Responsibility

Strict responsibility applies in Michigan to situations involving dog bites. Regardless of the dog’s past or the owner’s negligence, owners are responsible for damages if their dog strikes or bites someone or another animal without provocation. The only ways to defend yourself are to show that the victim was intruding, breaking the law, or inciting the dog. If an owner’s dog is judged dangerous or aggressive, or if they disregard the needs of containment and control, they may be charged with a crime.

Following these laws guarantees everyone’s safety as well as the well-being of the dogs. Seek legal counsel or speak with the local animal control organization for comprehensive information on local legislation.

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