According to Grand Traverse County, Stray Dogs are Now the Public’s Responsibility


Although the Grand Traverse County’s animal control ordinance still says that the Health Department is responsible for capturing, accepting and confining unlicensed dogs, stray dogs, unwanted, abandoned and abused dogs, they have (without an ordinance change) stopped adhering to their own county ordinance. The Animal Control Officers are no longer working and the County Commissioners have voted to turn the Animal Control Department over to the Sheriff’s Office with no plan put in place for the immediate transition or for the long-term success of the department. Several sources have confirmed it’ll be at least the middle of January until there is even an initial planning meeting between the County Administrator, Health Department, the Sheriff’s Department and the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. As the County has stated in their press release, “Until the meeting takes place, services specific to animal control will not be enhanced under the Sheriff’s Department” – meaning that the Sheriff’s Department will only take care of the animal issues they have always taken care of – barking dogs in addition to abuse and neglect issues.

The Grand Traverse County website is instructing people to drop off stray dogs to Cherryland Humane Society (CHS) if they feel comfortable doing so. There is still a contract between Grand Traverse County and CHS to house the dogs there through February 18, 2016. The hours of CHS are Monday through Friday 11 am to 5 pm and Saturdays 11 am to 3 pm. Their phone number is 231-946-5116 and they are located at 1750 Ahlberg Road in Traverse City.

If people decide to hold onto a stray dog themselves while looking for the owner, Pet Friends Magazine would like to make them aware of the stray hold laws in the State of Michigan. These laws include the reporting of the possession of the stray dog within 48 hours and adhering to the state’s stray holding periods. In normal situations, people are to report a stray dog to their local government animal control/shelter but since Grand Traverse no longer has Animal Control Officers to do the county’s paperwork and administer this information, it is recommended that you give that information to CHS until they advise you to do otherwise. They have intake forms in which to document the dog’s information. A dog without any form of identification must be “held” for four days and a dog with ID for seven days. The first day the dog is held does not count and neither do weekends and holidays. This gives an owner a chance to reclaim their pets. If you choose this route, please do everything you can to find the owner of the pet that you are holding onto.

According to the Grand Traverse County’s website, they say that questions regarding animal issues should be directed to the Central Dispatch non-emergency number of 231-922-4550 however since the animal ordinance still says the Health Department is responsible for stray dogs, you could also call Health Director, Wendy Trute, for answers to your questions at 231-995-6100. For dangerous situations involving animal neglect, abuse, endangerment or any life threatening situation, the County advises calling 911.

What do do if you find a stray dog in Grand Traverse County…

1. Take the dog to CHS or hold it yourself, abiding by Michigan’s stray dog holding periods. Notify central dispatch about the found dog in case they are keeping a list of lost/found dogs. 231-922-4550.

2. Post the dog’s photo and information on the Northern Michigan Craigslist website under “lost and found.”

3. Put up flyers in the area that you found the dog – with the dog’s photo, description and your contact info.

4. Have the dog scanned for a microchip. CHS and most veterinarians will be able to do this for you.

5. Post the dog’s photo and information on Facebook sites that will network the dog for you, including:

6. If the dog has a rabies tag, try to look up the owner here.

What do do if you lose a dog in Grand Traverse County…

1. Check with the locations above – CHS, Craigslist and the Facebook Lost Pets pages. Post photos and information including a way to contact you. You are encouraged to visit CHS in person to identify your dog as one person’s “Pit Bull” could be another person’s “Bulldog.” Even the best of animal shelter workers and veterinarians aren’t always to properly identify a dog breed.

2. Check with animal controls/shelters in the surrounding counties. Dogs can get picked up or go a long way themselves. Additionally, people might take a dog to a different animal shelter if it’s more convenient for them.

3. Search your neighborhood and talk to your neighbors and post office delivery person about your lost dog. Hand out flyers and post them in your neighborhood with your dog’s photo, description and your contact information.

4. Don’t forget the old fashioned way of looking for your dog – put a classified ad in the local newspaper. Not everyone has internet access.

5. Call local veterinarian clinics (and also those outside of your local area) in case your dog has been picked up and driven to one of these places.

6. Contact local animal rescue organizations such as AC PAW, H.A.N.D.D.S. to the Rescue, and Great Lakes Humane Society. You can contact them to report a lost or found dog to see if they’ve heard of any matches. They can’t take the animal from you until the stray hold time period is up. And after that, chances are that they may be full and unable to accept the animal into their program at that time so please don’t get upset with them that they aren’t able to shoulder the burden from our county no longer providing services to document and collect stray dogs.

7. Notify central dispatch about the lost dog in case they are keeping a list of lost/found dogs. 231-922-4550.


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7 thoughts on “According to Grand Traverse County, Stray Dogs are Now the Public’s Responsibility

  1. Carrie McGowan December 30, 2015 at 10:53 pm Reply

    Stay hold only apply to animal control shelters. Animals are property and as such would fall under lost property statutes for anyone else. I think we would all agree that animals are “major value” which means the owners don’t lose their rights to them for 6 months. If any one finds an animal, it would behoove you to leave no stone unturned while trying to find it’s home. Thanks for providing valuable tips for those who have lost and found pets.

    • Pet Friends Magazine December 31, 2015 at 6:23 am Reply

      I’ve talked to several different sources at shelters and all have said people can hold an animal themselves if they have the permission of the shelter (they might be full). In this case, we have no one to ask permission so people should adhere to the law regardless of the situation. I agree with you on the lost property statutes even though they don’t seem to follow that.

      • Dorothy Flees DeCoeur December 31, 2015 at 8:37 am

        Just curious, how would the Lost Property Statute then apply to a rescue? That is why we have always had the dog go through Animal Control first so that we had ownership once the hold period was up. There is no way we can continue to hold a dog for 6 months, and often we have spent money to treat the dog, does the owner now have the right to take the dog from someone that has adopted it?

      • Pet Friends Magazine January 2, 2016 at 11:00 am

        I don’t think anyone’s ever used the lost property statute – unless maybe a previous pet owner tried to get the pet back from a current pet owner after the shelter didn’t hold on to the pet long enough.

  2. Lora December 31, 2015 at 8:30 am Reply

    I do not understand why there is no longer animal control BEFORE another plan is in place. What happens when Cherryland fills up? I just don’t understand……..

  3. Max Wolf December 31, 2015 at 9:30 am Reply

    Call the sheriff department anyway with *all* animal control issues in *all* of Grand Traverse County including the City of Traverse City. They won’t have proper statistics to take to the county on what is truly needed if they don’t get the calls.

  4. Michele Simons December 31, 2015 at 7:40 pm Reply

    This is going to be a big messy event. Keep me in the loop. Happy n healthy new year to you n Dave. Michele/Muzzik

    Pet Friends Magazine News • Events • Adoptab

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