Information Regarding the Portage County Animal Control Program.
Portage County offers municipalities in Portage County the opportunity to participate in a county-wide animal control program. The program is coordinated by Portage County, administered by the Sheriff's Office, and contracted to the Humane Society of Portage County (HSPC).
Municipalities that are part of the program enjoy a wide range of services offered by the HSPC and Sheriff's Office. This includes animal control, licensing, rabies clinics, abandoned animal surrender, stray animal control, quarantine facilities, free or reduced veterinary care, educational services, kennel and commercial facilities inspections, and County ordinance enforcement.
Municipalities not participating in the program are responsible for animal control themselves, and do not receive free services from the HSPC. Additionally, these municipalities must enact and enforce their own animal control ordinances. The Sheriff's Office will assist with any criminal investigations. Municipalities that have withdrawn from the program are the Villages of Junction City and Amherst Junction.
State law and county ordinances require that all dogs be licensed and that rabies vaccinations be current. The owner of any dog more than 5 months of age on January 1st, or 5 months of age within the license year must annually, or on or before the dog becomes 5 months of age, obtain a license for that dog.
A dog license is valid from January 1st to December 31st of each year. Dog licenses can be easily obtained from your municipal treasurer, and are reasonably priced. There is also an option to obtain a multiple-dog license for owners of kennels or for those with a large number of dogs. Licenses can also be obtained from the Humane Society of Portage County - and they even are open on Saturdays if you can't get to your municipal clerk during normal business hours. There is a mandatory late fee if you fail to obtain a license by April 1st, or after 30 days of ownership of a new eligible dog.
The Sheriff's Office takes dog licensing seriously because of the potential impact on public health and safety. We have teamed up with the Humane Society to enforce licensing and vaccination laws. A citation to the owner of an unlicensed dog can cost between $169 and $263.50.
The HSPC is a contractor of Portage County and therefore is governed by the State's open record law regarding records generated on behalf of the County. Requests for HSPC or Sheriff's Office records relating to animal control should be made directly to the Sheriff's Office.
Annual Animal Control Meeting
Annually, Portage County hosts an Annual Animal Control meeting, where County, municipal, and HSPC representatives meet to talk all things animal control, including licensing, enforcement, rabies control, and financing. The meeting is open to elected officials from each of the partner city, village, and town entities that participate in the Program, as well as those municipalities that are not part of the program and wish to learn more. While this is not a public meeting, per se, our notes and packets are posted here for all to see.
The Portage County 2023 Annual Animal Control Meeting was held on October 18, 2023. Materials from the meeting can be accessed here:
- 2023 Meeting notes (PDF)
- 2023 Animal Control Meeting presentation (PDF)
- 2023 Humane Society of Portage County Municipality report (PDF)
Municipalities are invited to send representatives to the next annual meeting to learn the latest in County animal control efforts, ask questions, and discuss the Program with County and HSPC experts. The next meeting is scheduled for October 16, 2024.
Enforcement & Inspection
The HSPC provides humane law enforcement under contract with the Sheriff's Office for all partner municipalities participating in the County-wide animal control system. This includes animals at large, unlicensed dogs, mistreated or mal-cared for animals, and the like. They also assist with criminal animal cruelty and animal fighting cases where law enforcement takes the lead in investigations and enforcement. The HSPC is only empowered to enforce the County's animal control ordinance and does not enforce municipal ordinances.
The HSPC also conducts commercial animal inspections for those facilities that require a County permit. The HSPC is only empowered to inspect under the County's animal control ordinance and does not conduct municipal inspections.
- Chapter 95, Wisconsin State Statutes - Animal Health
- Chapter 173, Wisconsin State Statutes - Animals; Humane Officers
- Chapter 174, Wisconsin State Statutes - Dogs
- Chapter 951, Wisconsin State Statutes - Crimes Against Animals
- Chapter 4, Portage County Code of Ordinances - Health and Sanitation (Section 4.9 is Animal Control) (PDF)
Municipal E-Mail Communications
If you are representing a municipality and not on the mailing list, please let us know what email address you would like to use by sending an Email to the Sheriff. This is not intended for the general public.