What is Animal or Pet Law Representation?

-Legal representation for any type of breed dog/cat including pure breed and non-papered blending dogs.
-Local and State Ordinances governing laws in Southwest Michigan.
-Damages and case evaluation associated with any breed, health issues, broken contracts or dog/cat bite including liability.
-Ownership, custody and visitation
-Rescue and Shelter law
-Addendums to wills or trusts to ensure proper ownership and continued family love and care for a pet.  (Dogs or cats only)


Animal law lawyers help people who own, raise, study or care about animals. These attorneys can help you with your legal questions whether the animals in question that are pets. If someone harms your animal, or you want to leave your animal a gift when you die, or you are concerned about an animal’s welfare, animal law lawyers can help you understand the law that may apply. Animal law lawyers can also help you be aware of laws regulating animal licensing, registration, breeding and sale.  In Michigan, pets are considered personal property and any type of litigation that can be brought would be on that basis.


Our office assists in drafting Michigan Pet Contracts and also will defend either the owner or the pet owner when there is a breach.   It is recommended that before you sign a pet contract to have an attorney to review and discuss it with you.   Many times, these pets are purchased from breeders from out of state and the new potential owner needs to be aware that the state where the pet came from that state’s law may apply not Michigan.


Urbanization is putting Michigan residents in contact with animals—domesticated and wild—more than ever before. All animals carry inherent risks to people and property that may result in several different causes of action against those that own, keep, possess, or even attempt to control the offending animals.

Cat and dog bite actions related to injuries are recoverable for both physical and emotional distress. Often, plaintiffs may plead statutory and common-law actions alternatively. The causes of action available hinge on the specific facts of each matter. For example, statutory liability might hinge on a what constitutes knowledge of an animal’s dangerous or vicious propensities in a particular circumstance. However, at a minimum, a common-law negligence action should be available to the plaintiff.

Michigan recognizes three potential causes of action arising out of a dog bite incident: statutory, common-law strict liability, and common-law negligence, which may be pleaded alternatively depending on the circumstances. The dog bite statute creates a form of strict liability for owners. However, a secondary statute that applies to wolf-dog crossbreeds creates a similar form of strict liability for owners and persons temporarily in possession (possessors). Under the statutes, the only facts necessary to sustain a plaintiff’s case are that the dog bit the plaintiff, that the biting was without provocation, that the defendant owned the dog (or, in the case of a wolf-dog crossbreed, had possession of it),and that the plaintiff was lawfully at the location where the incident occurred. Provocation is a fact question for the jury, and actual ownership is required.


There are many state and local ordinances and statutes that protect the legal rights of animals including pets to not be abused or neglected.    State and local authorities often investigate these issues.   If you suspect someone is abusing or neglecting someone’s cat or dog, contact our firm.  The local non-kill animal shelters and pet rescues are also there to assist in protecting dogs and cats from terrible mis-treatment.



Before purchasing real estate or renting an apartment, house etc., it is important to find out if there are any restrictions on pet ownership in addition to local ordinances.   The number of pets, the breed of the pet, the weight of the pet and other factors may be included in legal documents that you would be signing.   Carefully review or obtain an attorney to review these documents as they are considered contracts and you could be fined and may have to re-home some of your pets if there are violations in addition to other legal actions.



Current to 09/04/20

Michigan Probate Sourcebook

With Commentary by John H. Martin

and Mark K. Harder Reporters for the EPIC and MTC Drafting Committees, Probate & Estate Planning Section

700.2722 Honorary trusts; trusts for pets

Sec. 2722. (1) Except as provided by another statute and subject to subsection (3), if a trust is for a specific lawful noncharitable purpose or for lawful noncharitable purposes to be selected by the trustee, and if there is no definite or definitely ascertainable beneficiary designated, the trust may be performed by the trustee for 21 years, but no longer, whether or not the terms of the trust contemplate a longer duration.(2) Subject to this subsection and subsection (3), a trust for the care of a designated domestic or pet animal is valid. The trust terminates when no living animal is covered by the trust. A governing instrument shall be liberally construed to bring the transfer within this subsection, to presume against the merely precatory or honorary nature of the disposition, and to carry out the general intent of the transferor. Extrinsic evidence is admissible in determining the transferor’s intent.(3) In addition to the provisions of subsection (1) or (2), a trust covered by either of those subsections is subject to the following provisions:(a) Except as expressly provided otherwise in the terms of the trust, no portion of the principal or income may be converted to the use of the trustee or to a use other than for the trust’s purposes or for the benefit of a covered animal.(b) Upon termination, the trustee shall transfer the unexpended trust property in the following order:

(i) As directed in the terms of the trust.(ii) To the settlor, if then living.(iii) If the trust was created in a non-residuary clause in the transferor’s will or in a codicil to the transferor’s will, under the residuary clause in the transferor’s will.(iv) If no taker is produced by the application of subparagraph (i), (ii), or (iii), to the transferor’s heirs under section 2720.(c) For the purposes of sections 2714 to 2716, the residuary clause is treated as creating a future interest under the terms of a trust.(d) The intended use of the principal or income may be enforced by an individual designated for that purpose in the terms of the trust or, if none, by an individual appointed by a court upon petition to it by an individual. A person having an interest in the welfare of the animal may request the court to appoint a person to enforce the trust or remove a person appointed.(e) Except as ordered by the court or required by the terms of the trust, no filing, report, registration, periodic accounting, separate maintenance of funds, appointment, or fee is required by reason of the existence of the fiduciary relationship of the trustee.(f) The court may reduce the amount of the property transferred if it determines that that amount substantially exceeds the amount required for the intended use. The amount of the reduction, if any, passes as unexpended trust property under subdivision (b).9/18/2020 700.2722.

(g) If a trustee is not designated or no designated trustee is willing or able to serve, the court shall name a trustee. The court may order the transfer of the property to another trustee if the transfer is necessary to ensure that the intended use is carried out, and if a successor trustee is not designated in the terms of the trust or if no designated successor trustee agrees to serve or is able to serve. The court may also make other orders and determinations as are advisable to carry out the intent of the transferor and the purpose of this section.(h) The trust is not subject to the uniform statutory rule against perpetuities, 1988 PA 418, MCL554.71 to 554.78.

As amended by 2009 PA 46 (eff. Apr 1, 2010).


Reporter’s Comment

Section 2722 addresses two special use trusts that would fail under ordinary principles of trust law. The first, described in §2722(1) is a noncharitable trust for which the purposes are either stated or to be selected by the trustee and, in either situation, there is no ascertainable beneficiary. MCL700.7402(2) indicates when a trust beneficiary is ascertainable. See MCL 700.7402(3) for the requirement that a power to select the trust beneficiary from an indefinite class is valid only in a charitable trust. This section permits the described trust to be performed for 21 years and no longer. The initial phrase of subsection (1) expressly making it subject to another relevant statutory provision was added by 2009 PA 46, effective April 1, 2010.

The second type of special use trust is described in §2722(2). It validates a trust to benefit a specified domestic or pet animal.

Section 2722(3) applies to a trust described in §2722(1) or (2). Among other things, the trust is enforceable, and the court should ensure its continuation and application to its stated purpose. Minor changes were made by 2009 PA 46, effective April 1, 2010. Subsection (3)(b)(ii) was added as was the last sentence of subsection (3)(d).

There were no similar provisions in the RPC. This section is based on UPC §2-907.

DID YOU KNOW?  You can adopt dogs that failed government training for being too ‘nice’ ? It’s true! Here’s how…