Dept. of Animal Control FAQ’s

Department of Animal Control

The Humane Society of St. Joseph County operates the Department of Animal Control to ensure the safety and welfare of not only our community’s animals but also the people that they may come into contact with. The Department of Animal Control is contracted to perform animal control and sheltering for St. Joseph County, Mishawaka City, Osceola, Lakeville, Roseland, New Carlisle, North Liberty, and Notre Dame. We do not service South Bend city limits.

Each Animal Control Officer is extensively trained in not only understanding animals but animal law unique to both Indiana and our community. ACOs typically complete an extensive three to six month training program that covers everything from breed identification, large animal rescue through criminal law and judicial procedures. To further the expertise of our ACOs, we invest in their education by sending them to training seminars taught by the National Animal Care & Control Association (NACA). These NACA certified ACOs learn a wide variety of skills including body condition scoring, safety and survival in the field, investigative report writing, case and trial preparation, large scale impounds, and disaster planning.

We take great pride in providing our community the highest quality of client and animal control services.

I have a concern for an animal in the community, what do I do?

If you feel like there is an animal (domestic or wild) in need of assistance within our jurisdiction, you are welcome to call our office for assistance. Our office assistants will need a specific address for any complaint calls made. Exact addresses are needed to ensure that our Humane Officers arrive at the right location and to help keep our Humane Officers safe. When you call you will be asked to give a detailed description of the animal(s) in need , a description of the issue and your contact information. We keep your private information confidential. Our Humane Officers can be reached after hours for animal related emergencies at (574) 255-4726 ext 8.

I found a dog/cat and I can't keep it. What do I do?

Give us a call. We will walk you through our Lost & Found procedures. If you found a pet in our jurisdiction, you are welcome to drop it off at our shelter during business hours. Our Animal Control Officers can assist scheduling a time to pick up the animal in the morning if you found it after-hours.

My neighbor's dog is constantly running loose and/or barking. What can I do?

If your neighbor’s pets continually run at large, meaning that these pets come off of their property and either into the road or onto neighboring yards, then we encourage you to call our office to make an official complaint. A Client Care team member will ask for basic information including: the pet owner’s address, directions to this property, a description of the animal(s) allowed to run at large, how frequently they run at large, if there are set times these incidents occur and so on. If this is your second or third complaint regarding your neighbor’s pets running at large we ask that if it is possible for you to safely take pictures of the pets off their property, do so. To ensure we respond to the correct location and for our Animal Control Officers’ safety, an exact address is needed.

If your neighbor’s pets are continually causing a noise disturbance you are also welcome to call our office.  A Client Care team member will ask for basic information including: the pet owner’s address, directions to this property, a description of the animal(s) causing the nuisance, the frequency and if there are set times these incidents occur and so on. To ensure we respond to the correct location and for our Animal Control Officers’ safety, an exact address is needed.

I found baby wildlife. What do I do now?

Every spring we are inundated by hundreds of calls concerning wildlife, particularly baby mammals and birds. Here are a few tips that will help our fellow creatures and Animal Control Officers care for these animals that may be in distress.

  • If the animal is hurt or sick (bleeding, shivering, vomiting, or was injured by another animal) then call your local animal control facility as soon as possible.
  • If the animal is not hurt or sick please leave the animal alone. Removing baby rabbits from their den just because the den is in an inconvenient spot is not okay.  Place a temporary fence around the den to keep your dog away or simply walk your dog on a leash.
  • If you find baby bunnies and their nest has been damaged, it can be repaired. Look for a shallow depression lined with grass/fur. Place babies in nest with light layers of grass to hid them. Leave the area, or the mother won’t return. (Mother rabbits only return at dawn and dusk.)
  • If you find a baby fawn laying by itself, chances are its mother is away to feed. Unless you know the fawn is injured or seriously ill, leave the area. The mother will not return if people are around. If the animal is injured or ill, please call your local animal control agency.
  • If you find a baby bird that is feathered with a short tail hopping on the ground then that is a fledgling. Fledglings are learning how to fly and their parents are still feeding it. Please do not touch them but keep it safe from your pets.
  • If the baby bird doesn’t have feathers yet then it is a nestling. Gently place the nestling back into its nest and leave the area. If the nest is destroyed, call your local animal control agency for help.
  • If you find a baby duck or goose and the mother is dead, or if the baby is injured, call your local animal control agency for help.
  • If the baby is separated from its mother and you know where she is, place the baby close by where the mother can hear it.
  • If the mother is not found or does not claim the baby within a few hours, call your local animal control agency.

Please remember to leave wildlife alone whenever possible. Touching or removing animals from their natural habitat will greatly reduce their chances for survival since a baby’s best chance for survival is its mother. If you see a sick or injured animal please call your local animal control agency or a wildlife rehabilitator for help.


  • Humane Society of St. Joseph County: (574) 255-4726
  • South Bend Animal Care & Control: (574) 235-9303
  • Elkhart County Humane Society: (574) 848-4225
  • Berrien County Animal Control: (269) 471-7531

If I call in a complaint, do I have to leave my information?

We understand that neighborhood disputes and family situations can make it stressful on relationships. Our Animal Control Officers and Client Care team members are dedicated to keeping your information confidential and perserving the health and welfare of not just the animals in our community but the people too! We will not release caller/complainant information unless we are mandated by court order or State and Federal Laws require us to.

To make an official complaint or field call, you will be asked to leave your full name, address and phone number. In some cases an Animal Control Officer may need to ask you more specific questions about a complaint and to get an official statement. We do not make follow up calls to give you the status of the complaint you have made.

Do dogs & cats need to be licensed?

Yes! Dogs and cats in all areas of St. Joseph County are required to be licensed. To obtain your pet’s license, you can visit the Humane Society with your pet’s current rabies certificate. Most veterinary hospitals in St. Joseph County can also sell you a pet license.

The price of your pet license depends on where you live, if your pet is spayed/neutered, if your pet has a microchip and whether your pet has a one year or three year rabies vaccination. Licenses range from $5-$25 in the County and $10-$25 in Mishawaka City.