Animal Control FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions:

What do I do if I find a stray animal?

A: In the city of Des Moines, call Animal Control (dispatched by the Des Moines police department) at (515) 283-4811 or bring to Animal Control during business hours. Outside of Des Moines, call your non-emergency police department line. If you are able to confine the animal to a garage, or other safe area until an Animal Control Officer arrives, that will help to ensure the animal is safely brought back to the shelter.

What do I do if I have lost my pet?

A: Click here to visit the Lost & Found section of our website.

Why does it take so long from the time I call Animal Control to the time they arrive?

A: Animal Control Officers are dispatched from the Des Moines police department and are handled in the order they are received, except when there is an injured animal, then they are given precedence. There is usually only 1 officer on duty at any given time and they have the entire city of Des Moines to cover, so wait times can take longer during peak times of the day and certain times of the year. If you have caught a stray animal and are able to safely put it into your car, you may bring the animal to the Animal Care & Control location at:

1615 SE. 14th St.
Des Moines, IA 50315
Phone: (515) 243-4526 or (515) 284-6905

Monday-Saturday: 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Sunday: CLOSED

Call (515) 283-4811 for emergencies, 24/7.

How are the fees to reclaiming an animal set?

A: The City Council for the city of Des Moines sets the fee structure for all animal control fees. The ARL fully supports the current fee structure as it encourages responsible pet ownership and punishes irresponsible owners with stiffer fines. If you have your pet spayed/neuter, microchipped, licensed, and rabies vaccinated, you will have the lowest fees possible in the event your animal is ever found "at large."

What are the reclaiming fees?

A: Fee schedule for reclaiming pets:

$50 impound fee
$15 rabies shot
$35 non altered license fee
$15 altered license fee
$50 late fee if license was not purchased before March 31st
$12 per day boarding
$40 microchip fee for pit bulls picked up
$7.50 processing fee

What happens to an animal if not reclaimed?

A: The animal will be medically and behaviorally evaluated for adoption. The ARL does its best to find loving homes for the thousands of pets that come through its doors each year.

The ARL keeps pets as long as their health and temperament are good. The ARL has no set time limit for keeping animals as long as an animal is safe and not suffering. An animal will stay in our care for as long as it take to find them a home. After six weeks in our care, we try to place the pet in a foster home to give them a break from the shelter until they are adopted.

Do we sell to research?

A: No. The ARL has never sent pets for research and will not in the future.

Are there any spay/neuter programs available to residents of Des Moines?

A: The ARL has several spay/neuter programs available, click here to learn more about these programs.

Can I get someone to speak to my neighborhood association in Des Moines about animal issues?

A: The ARL regularly participates in community outreach and humane education events. To learn more about community outreach presentations, click here.

What should I do about injured wildlife in Des Moines?

A: Animal Care & Control will take injured and sick wildlife calls within the City limits of Des Moines, call dispatch at (515) 283-4811. Outside of the city limits, contact our Wildlife Rehab Partner by clicking here.

What do I do if I live in Des Moines and don't want my pet anymore?

A: If you are considering bringing your pet to the Animal Rescue League of Iowa (ARL), we ask that you first let us try to help you with your situation so that you can keep your pet in your home. The ARL has many resources regarding pet behavior including online pet care and behavior tips on subjects ranging from litterbox issues to chewing to biting. Or, the ARL also has dog, cat and rabbit behavior counselors available who give free expert advice. The ARL also has many behavior help lines, click here for more information. If you decide you simply must relinquish your pet to the ARL, please bring your pet to our Main Shelter location at 5452 NE 22nd St., Des Moines. Animal intakes begin at 9:30 a.m. each day and end at 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and run 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the weekends. Please bring vet records with you and plan to spend at least 1/2 hour at the shelter to provide the information we need about your pet.You will be asked to fill out a questionnaire about your pet asking about your pet's preferences, feeding schedule, etc. The more honest information you can provide about your pet, the better the chances we can find it a forever home. The ARL does NOT guarantee that we will find a new home for your pet. Once you release your pet to the ARL, the ARL will not give any information to you about your pet or its status. Therefore, carefully consider that relinquishing a pet is final.

Do you have microchipping services?

A: Yes. Please click here for dates and fees.

What constitutes animal abuse/neglect?

A: When helping animals in abuse or neglect situations, it is important to first know and understand what constitutes animal abuse, neglect or torture under Iowa law. Many people have different standards of care for their pets. While someone may not love and care for their pet like you do, it may not be an abuse situation. Ultimately, it will be up to law enforcement, prosecutors, veterinarians and a judge to determine if a particular case is animal abuse/neglect or not, but the following is a basic guideline by Iowa law.

What should I do if I see someone neglecting or abusing an animal?

A: If you see someone abusing an animal, you may want to run over and tell the person to stop. Unless you know that confronting the person will change their behavior and not risk any harm to yourself, don't do it. You may be putting yourself at risk as well as the animal. Instead take photographs or videotape if you can. This evidence will be invaluable to investigators. In the case of a child or children abusing an animal, the parent(s) may be unaware of the behavior. Animal abuse has been linked with other types of abuse in the home (child abuse, domestic violence). It is better to let law enforcement investigate. If you are not successful contacting local law enforcement, contact the ARL's cruelty intervention coordinator at (515) 284-6905. Remember, it's important to report animal abuse/neglect. If you don't, who will? Helpless animals depend on you.