Animal Control

Animal Control

If you have come across an animal in distress, call your local animal control agency or law enforcement. City of Des Moines residents can call (515) 283-4811.  

The Animal Rescue League of Iowa (ARL) is contracted by multiple municipalities to provide animal control services and housing for stray animals.

In Des Moines, the ARL is contracted to operate the city's animal control program. This program is a partnership with the Des Moines Police Department and a member of their department serves as Chief Humane Officer. The ARL currently operates out of the city's animal control facility and the program is supervised by an ARL Animal Control Services Manager. That position employs all of the Animal Control Officers (ACOs), animal care staff, and medical staff, including a city Veterinarian as defined in the city ordinance.

Through this partnership, the citizens of Des Moines and their animals benefit because through grants and donations, the ARL as an organization is able to offer programs and services that would not be offered by a strictly tax-funded animal control program. Some of these include: 

  • Community outreach/education to owners vs. strictly enforcement to change owner behaviors and improve the quality of life for pets
  • FREE and low-cost spay/neuter services for the pets of qualified, low-income owners to reduce the over population of pets
  • Low-cost microchipping services to ensure pets are quickly reunited with their owners
  • Adoptions of strays who have not been reclaimed through the ARL's vibrant adoption program
  • Free dog houses, collars, tags, etc. to people who cannot afford them to improve the dog's quality of life and ensure they can be quickly reunited if lost

Animal Control Facts

  • The Animal Care & Control location hours and location are located here.
  • Average number of trips each day: 30-35
  • There are 5.5 Animal Control Officers performing animal control from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (7 days a week).
  • In 2016, there were 633 bites reported to Animal Care & Control, and every bite is investigated.
  • For information regarding the City of Des Moines ordinances, click here.


Q:  What do I do if I find a stray animal?
A: In the city of Des Moines, call the Des Moines Police Department dispatch line 24/7 to dispatch an ARL Animal Control Officer during scheduled hours or a police officer during off hours.  

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. You may also find it more convenient or faster to bring the animal to ARL Animal Care & Control during open hours.

All stray animals that arrive at the ARL are place on within 24 hours.

Outside of Des Moines, call your non-emergency police department line.

Q:  What do I do if I have lost my pet?
A: Visit the Lost & Found section of our website.

Q:  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. If you have your pet spayed/neutered, microchipped, licensed, and rabies vaccinated, you will have the lowest fees possible in the event your animal is ever found "at large".

Q:  What are the reclaiming fees?
A: Contact the Animal Care & Control Center at (515) 284-6905 to discuss the fees for your specific pet or stop by in person during open hours. Some fees increase each day, so it is important to act quickly to avoid additional fees.

Q:  What happens to an animal if not reclaimed?
A: Animals that are not reclaimed within the city's "stray hold time" are then transferred to the ARL to enter our adoption program.

Q: Does the ARL sell animals to research?
A: No. The ARL has never sent pets for research and will not in the future.

Q:  Are there any spay/neuter programs available to residents of Des Moines?
A: The ARL are several spay/neuter programs available, based on your zip code and income.

Q:  Can I get someone to speak to my neighborhood association in Des Moines about animal issues?
A: E-mail to request a presentation.

Q:  What should I do about injured wildlife?
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 your animal control department first and if unsuccessful, you can try one of our Wildlife Rehab Partners.

Q:  Do you have microchipping services?
A: Yes. Click here for dates/times.

Q:  What constitutes animal abuse/neglect?
A: Learn more about our Cruelty Intervention program here.