When an animal control officer is called in the city of Southfield to respond to a problem animal, the officer will often check nearby homes to see if they have unlicensed dogs.

“If he sees a dog in the window in the yard, he’ll see if they have a tag,” said Betsy Miller, Southfield’s records supervisor.

State law gives municipal governments the authority to go out and do door-to-door surveys and ask homeowners to produce licenses for their dogs. The pet owner can then be ticketed if the dog is not licensed, which can be nullified if a license is purchased within a certain number of days.

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It is state law that any dog six months or older must have a license. License costs vary around the state, but most cost between $7 and $25. There are about a dozen counties in the state that do dog surveys, according to an estimate by Steve Halstead, the state veterinarian with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Oakland County hires part-timers to go door-to-door for their dog survey.  The county uses global positioning mapping technology to make sure their surveyors don’t go to a house that has already filed a license with the county.

In Grand Traverse County, they stopped doing dog surveys about five years ago.

“That’s just silly,” said Jason Gillman, a Grand Traverse County Commissioner and a tea party activist. “That’s getting a little tyrannical with your local government.  Should they be licensed? Yeah. It’s appropriate. But whether or not they should be playing detective, I don’t think that is appropriate.”

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See also:

State Law Requires the Killing of Unlicensed Dogs