McHenry County Department of Health - Animal Control
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How is Animal Control related to Public Health?

  • Animal Control is an integral part of public health; specifically veterinary public health
  • Works to improve the health and quality of life of the public and their pets
  • Reduces overpopulation of animals, and, thus, the unnecessary spread of disease
  • Aims for the the three P's of public health: Promote, Protect and Prevent

Where can I find the Animal Control Ordinance?

  • The Animal Control Article of the McHenry County Public Health Ordinance can be found here.
  • Local municipal subdivisions may also have their own city, village, or township animal control regulations.

What do Animal Control Officers do?

  • Animal Control Officers of the McHenry County Department of Health's Veterinary Division do the foot and field work for the organization, including:
    • Responding to calls of animal cruelty, dangerous animals, animals running at large, and noise complaints; officers even respond to late-night and weekend calls
    • Support building staff: officers also do paperwork, office work, and help at the kennel when needed

How do I register my cat or dog in McHenry County?

  • Any cat or dog four months of age or older must be registered with the county, usually through your veterinarian. 
  • Owners must pay an annual registration fee and cats and dogs must be rabies vaccinated to obtain a registration tag. 
  • Registration tags must be worn at all times as a means of identification.

I lost my cat or dog. How do I know if he was picked up by MCDH Veterinary Division?

  • Call the MCDH Veterinary Division to report the animal missing. We will file a lost report on your pet and check the report against incoming phone calls and stray animals brought to the shelter.
  • Strays brought to the shelter have their pictures taken and published here on

How long do you keep strays?

  • Stray animals are held for seven business days. After that, the animal becomes the legal property of McHenry County.
  • Unclaimed animals are evaluated for health and behavior, and processed for adoption or transfer to another facility if they pass.

How many animals find their way home again from the shelter?

  • Sixty seven percent of stray dogs are reunited with their owners (national average is 40 percent)
  • Eleven percent of stray cats are reunited with their owners (national average is two percent).
  • Microchips greatly increase the chance that an animal will be reunited with the owner.

I need to relinquish my animal. What should I do?

  • You must be a McHenry County resident to use this service.
  • Call first to see if space is available to accept your animal.
  • The animal owner needs to fill out the relinquish paperwork, not a friend or family member. An owner’s agent can be designated in writing by the animal owner for owners who are in the hospital or incarcerated.
  • A relinquish fee applies.

Do you adopt out animals?

  • Yes! View adoptable animals here or stop by and visit us at 100 N. Virginia Street in Crystal Lake.
  • Adoption hours are M, Tu, Th, F 10:30 am – 4:30 pm; W 10:30 am – 6:30 pm; Sat 10:00 am – 2:30 pm.

What does an adoption cost?

  • $150.00 is our adoption fee for dogs under 6 months old, older dogs are $125.00, cats under 6 months old are $100.00 and older cats are $80.00. The adoption fee includes surgical sterilization, microchip, flea and tick control treatment, age appropriate vaccinations including rabies, deworming, heartworm testing for dogs and FeLV/FIV testing for cats. Cats that have been here a long time have reduced adoption fees.
  • Occasionally other species are available (guinea pigs, rabbits, reptiles, birds) and they are available for a donation.

I was bitten by an animal. What should I do?

  • Seek medical attention for the bite. Animal bites frequently cause infections.
  • Report the bite to MCDH Veterinary Division. We will follow up on the bite to be sure the animal undergoes a ten day rabies quarantine, and check on the vaccination status of the pet.
  • If the animal is lost to follow-up or was a wild animal, contact the MCDH Communicable Diseases Program at 815-334-4500 for assistance. MCDH Veterinary Division cannot give out human medical advice.
  • If you or your pet were attacked and injured by a dog, you can call MCDH Veterinary Division and inquire about a dangerous dog investigation.

I found a baby wild animal in my yard. What should I do?

There is a dog running around the neighborhood. What can I do?

  • Make sure your family and pets are secured inside your home and if you believe the dog(s) pose a threat, notify any of your neighbors,
  • Contact MCDH Veterinary Division at 815-459-6222.
    • Provide your name, address and contact number(s),
    • A description of the dog(s),
    • Location of the dog(s) last seen,
    • Advise Animal Control if the animals are posing an immediate threat to people, pets or livestock,
    • Provide the name and address of the owner(s) of the dog(s) if known,
    • If you have contained the dog(s) please advise MCDH Veterinary Division,
      • Please Note: If dog(s) appear to be dangerous or aggressive, DO NOT attempt to restrain the dog(s) unless safe to do so.
    • Please let the department know if you would like to be notified if and when the dog(s) have been contained,
    • Advise the department if the dog(s) have bitten or injured any person or other animal.

What to expect when you contact the Veterinary Division regarding any dog(s) running at large?

  • You will be provided a complaint number at the time of the call,
  • An Animal Control Officer (ACO) will be assigned to the complaint,
  • Once the ACO is assigned, you will be given the Officers name and contact information,
  • An ACO will be assigned to the case and make a site visit to assess the situation and attempt to locate and restrain the dog(s),
  • Every attempt will be made to capture the dog(s),
  • Not all dogs are easily restrained, as such, the Department may deploy other resources to assist on this complaint,
  • If the dog(s) elude capture, MCDH Veterinary Division will deploy resources based on the situation and continue to work to insure the safety of the public,
  • If there has been an injury to a person, pet or livestock, please file a complaint with your local police department,
  • Any financial impact that is a direct result of this complaint is a civil matter and not the responsibility of MCDH Veterinary Division.

My neighbor’s dog barks and barks. What can I do?

  • Barking dog complaints are difficult to follow-up. Our officers are dispatched for barking complaints, but it is common that the dog is quiet when the officer arrives. The officer must hear and document the barking; the officer may issue a notice of public complaint to the dog owner.

A cat is hanging around my house and I don’t want it. What can I do?

  • MCDH Veterinary Division will pick up a stray cat IF you have it contained. We do not place traps for cats. Live traps can be rented or purchased at local stores. However, we do not encourage trapping for cats as it is too easy to trap raccoons, opossums, or skunks by mistake. A permit from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources is required for trapping nuisance wildlife.
  • IF the cat has the tip of its left ear gone, it is part of a managed feral cat colony. It has no owner, and technically cannot be a stray.
  • IF you have been feeding and/or sheltering the cat for longer than seven days, legally you are the owner of the cat.

Are you a no-kill shelter?

  • No, because we handle biting animals and animals that have killed other animals that, in the interests of public health and safety, cannot be safely re-homed.
  • We are a low-kill facility. Every adoptable animal is placed in a new home. We do not euthanize for time or space.

Do you have volunteer opportunities?

  • YES! MCDH Veterinary Division is always looking for talented, energetic volunteers. You must be at least 18 years of age to volunteer.
  • Volunteers help with socializing animals, adoption counseling, cage and kennel cleaning, and office work.
  • Thanks to our volunteers, more pets have the opportunity to find new homes and live happier lives.

Do you have educational programs?

  • YES! MCDH Veterinary Division offers informational presentations for local businesses, schools, community organizations and other groups.
  • Program topics include bite prevention and responsible pet ownership. Call 815-334-4946 to schedule a speaker.

Do you pick up dead animals?

  • Deceased dogs and cats are retrieved by MCDH Veterinary Division, checked against the lost reports, and scanned for a microchip in an effort to locate the owner. If a deceased wild animal caused a potential human exposure to rabies, it would also be retrieved for rabies testing.
  • If the dead animal is a bird and you are concerned about West Nile Virus, contact the Environmental Health Division at 815-334-4585 for assistance.

I have a concern regarding a kennel or animal shelter, who should I contact?

  • Kennels and Shelters are licensed and regulated by the Illinois Department of Agriculture. To learn more, or to file a complaint, please contact the Bureau of Animal Welfare at 217-782-6657.