Congratulations! You’re about to embark on a great journey: adopting a dog. Whether it’s your first pet or not, this is an exciting time that will bring lots of joy into your life.
So, let’s be sure you do it right! Read on to find everything you need to know about adopting a dog in Michigan.
Finding a dog in Michigan
Did you know that 68% of U.S. households have at least one pet? And you’re about to join them! But in order to be part of this community, you need to find your dog first.
Start by looking at the available dogs in Michigan rescues and shelters. Check out the list we’ve compiled below, or conduct a quick online search for shelters in your area. It helps to conduct your search during the spring and summer months, as rescues usually see higher intake numbers during these seasons. Keep an eye out for crowded times, as shelters may reduce adoption fees in order to free up space. You may also get a deal on your adoption during specialty holidays like National Dog Day and Adopt a Dog Month.
Here are a few other tips to make the process a little easier:
- Narrow your search to a particular breed. You can learn the characteristics of different dog breeds on the American Kennel Club website.
- Limit your search only to dogs available at your nearest rescue.
- Search through aggregated websites like Adopt A Pet or Petfinder.
Banned breeds in Michigan
More than 30 cities in Michigan have breed-specific legislation. Most are specific to pit bulls—either banning them, restricting them, or classifying them as dangerous. Check local laws to see which dogs are allowed in your area. Your shelter should also have this information and shouldn’t adopt out dogs of a prohibited breed.
Michigan cities with breed-specific legislation include:
- Buena Vista
- Carson City
- Center Line
- Dearborn Heights
- Grosse Pointe Woods
- Harper Woods
- Highland Park
- Muskegon Heights
- Norton Shores
- Orchard Lake
- Roosevelt Park
- Roscommon County
- Sylvan Lake
- Tawas City
- Lakewood Club
- West Branch
The adoption process in Michigan
Shelters and rescues have their own processes for adoption. Some have pre-adoption applications, some require a home visit, but every process has similar steps:
- Find a dog that interests you and fill out an adoption application. You can find your dog online or by visiting the shelter and browsing. Each has its benefits. Online browsing lets you conduct your search from the comfort of your home, but looking in person allows you to meet with the dog immediately.
- Regardless of which method you chose, an adoption counselor will tell you if that pet is still available and schedule an introduction. Meeting the dog allows you to observe its behavior and see how it interacts with you and others in your home.
- If you and the dog get along, you’ll start filling out adoption paperwork. The shelter will contact your veterinarian and landlord (if you rent). Don’t worry if you don’t have a vet; the shelter can recommend some local to your area.
- Next, you’ll have a counseling session on dog ownership. You and a member of the shelter staff will go over proper diet, training, medical care, and more for your dog.
- Once that is complete, you will pay the adoption fee and can take your pet home!
Same-day adoptions take a few hours, so try to get to the rescue with enough time before closing.
Licensing dogs in Michigan
Michigan law requires all dogs older than 4 months to be licensed within 30 days of adoption. Licenses are handled by individual counties, but many shelters will complete the licensing process at the time of adoption. If not, check your county website (or ask a shelter employee) for details on licensing your new pet.
The first vet visit
Schedule a veterinary appointment within the first week of adoption. Not only does this give the vet a chance to meet your new dog, but he or she will be able to treat any minor ailments your dog may have picked up at the shelter.
Your rescue should have provided a copy of your dog’s medical history. Bring this information with you to your first vet visit. Some shelters even partner with local veterinarian’s offices to provide a voucher for a free check-up.
How much it costs to adopt a dog in Michigan
Adoption fees help rescues provide much-needed services, including saving, transporting, and treating stray animals. Fees vary between shelters and can sometimes change depending on the dog’s breed. Keep this in mind when you start your search for your new pet.
To help you get a sense of the costs, here are the adoption prices for three highly-rated rescues in Michigan:
I Heart Dogs Rescue and Animal Haven
- Cost: $225 for medium and large adult dogs, $300 for puppies and small adult dogs, $150 for senior dogs
- What it covers: spay/neuter surgery, age-appropriate vaccinations, heartworm testing
Michigan Animal Adoption Network
- Cost: $250
- What it covers: spay/neuter surgery, medical exam, and care
Wishbone Pet Rescue
- Cost: $190 for puppies up to 1 year old, $170 for dogs between 1 and 7 years old, $100 for senior dogs older than 7 years
- What it covers: spay/neuter surgery, age-appropriate vaccinations, flea/worm treatment, microchipping
Where to adopt a dog in Michigan
- I Heart Dogs Rescue and Animal Haven: A no-kill rescue service that also specializes in assisting pets belonging to survivors of domestic violence.
- Michigan Animal Adoption Network: A nationally recognized service with acclaim from Animal Planet, Nickelodeon, The History Channel, and more.
- Michigan Humane Society: A state-wide service with centers (and partner centers) in Detroit, Rochester Hills, Westland, Beverly Hills, Novi, Roseville, and Sterling Heights.
- Wishbone Pet Rescue: An animal advocacy group formed after the discovery of a heart-breaking animal cruelty case in 2008.
Creating a care budget for your dog
You’ll likely cover the annual cost of dog care during your counseling session. In the meantime, here’s a little preview of your new expenses:
Recurring purchases include:
- Dog walking services
- Dental care
- Exams and vaccinations
- Boarding/pet sitting
- Waste bags
- Parasite and flea/tick preventative
- Pet insurance
One-time purchases include:
- A collar or harness and a leash (the shelter may provide one or more)
- Grooming products
- Pet-friendly cleaning products
- Puppy pads
- Training sessions
A note about pet insurance
Like humans, some dogs simply require more medical care than others. Some breeds are known for specific issues (like pugs and breathing problems), or your dog may have suffered an injury before its rescue.
Pet insurance can give you peace of mind in such situations, saving you from a hefty, unexpected bill. Compare quotes to your dog’s medical history, and see if your employer offers pet insurance as part of its benefits package. Your rescue may also provide a voucher for a complimentary 30-day trial.
Getting ready for your new dog
Your new dog is almost here, but first, you’ll need to get your living space ready. Pet-proof your home and grab the following essentials:
- Food, bowls, and treats
- Collar or harness and leash
- A crate that’s neither too small nor too big
- Grooming tools
- Enzyme cleaner for accidents
Having these vital items ready for your new companion makes the transition to home life that much easier.
And then, bring home your new pet
Congratulations! You and your new dog are sure to have lots of fun together. And should you find yourself in need of help, Rover has several qualified dog walkers, sitters, and boarding services in Michigan ready for your call.