Chapter Seven of the City of Dallas Code outlines the laws related to animal welfare in our city. We encourage all pet owners to review these local ordinances to ensure they are in compliance with City Code. Below are some of the laws regarding animals in the City of Dallas. Read the
(a) An owner of a dog or cat commits an offense if the animal is not spayed or neutered.
(a) A person commits an offense if he breeds or allows the breeding of a dog or cat without a valid breeding permit for the dog or cat. A separate permit is required for each dog or cat that the person keeps unsterilized for breeding purposes.
What This Means
All dogs and cats over the age of six months must be spayed or neutered unless given a medical exemption by a veterinarian, or if the owner has an active breeding permit. Learn more about the spay/neuter requirement in the City of Dallas and breeding restrictions.
Spaying or neutering your pet not only comes with health and behavioral benefits, but helps reduce the serious issue of pet overpopulation in our community. Do your part to save lives and help us #BeDallas90 by spaying or neutering your pet.
(a) An owner of a dog or cat commits an offense if:
(1) the dog or cat is not currently vaccinated;
(2) the dog or cat is not wearing a collar or harness with a current rabies tag securely attached to it; or
(3) the owner fails to show a current certificate of vaccination and rabies tag for the dog or cat upon request by the director or a peace officer.
What This Means
Rabies is a deadly disease, but thankfully completely preventable with a vaccine. All dogs and cats over the age of 4 months must be vaccinated for rabies. Your pet must also have their rabies tag attached to their collar at all times.
Dallas Animal Services also strongly recommends keeping your pet up to date with core vaccines.
Dogs should be vaccinated against distemper, parvovirus, and adenovirus. If you and your dog spend lots of time out in nature, your veterinarian may recommend vaccinating your dog against leptospirosis and Lyme disease. If your dog frequents dog parks, doggy day care, or boarding facilities, or if you foster shelter animals, your veterinarian may recommend vaccinating your dog against parainfluenza, canine influenza, and bordetella.
Cats should be vaccinated against rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV). Dallas Animal Services recommends keeping cats exclusively indoors, but if you allow your pet to venture outside, or if you foster shelter pets, your veterinarian may recommend vaccinating your cat against feline chlamydia and bordetella.
(a) An owner of a dog or cat commits an offense if the dog or cat does not have a microchip.
What This Means
All dogs and cats over the age of four months must have a microchip. This serves as your pet’s registration with the City of Dallas. Dallas Animal Services offers microchipping services through Spay Neuter Network for just $10.
Dallas Animal Services also strongly recommends ensuring your pet is wearing a properly fitted collar with ID tags attached at all times. The ID tags should have your current contact information. Your name, phone number and physical address are ideal to include on the tag. You can get an ID tag for your pet at your local pet store.
An owner of a dog may only tether a dog if the dog is in the owner’s immediate possession and accompanied by the owner, as required by Section 7-3.1 of this chapter. In addition, the owner of a tethered dog shall:
(1) not allow the dog to be tethered in any manner or by any method that allows the dog to become entangled or injured;
(2) use a properly fitted harness or collar that is specifically designed for the dog; and
(3) attach the tethering device to the dog’s harness or collar and not directly to the dog’s neck.
What This Means
Dogs should never be left unattended and tethered by a rope, chain, or other tethering device that is attached directly to their neck. Read more about the behavioral and medical problems that can occur when a dog is tethered. Thanks to the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act that went into effect in 2022, this is not just illegal in Dallas but also the entire state of Texas. To report a dog left tethered or chained, please make an Animal Lack of Care report by calling 311, using the OurDallas app, or online.
If your property does not have an adequate fence to prevent your dog from escaping, you can utilize a trolley or tie-out system to safely restrain your dog. These range from $15 – 30 dollars online or at your local pet store. A more expensive option is an outdoor enclosure that gives the dog plenty of room to run around.
(a) An owner commits an offense if the owner fails to restrain the animal, at all times:
(1) in a fenced yard;
(2) in an enclosed pen;
(3) in a structure; or
(4) by a tethering device, but only if the animal is in the owner’s immediate possession and accompanied by the animal’s owner, and, if the animal is a dog, the owner complies with the requirements in Section 7-4.7 of this chapter.
What This Means
Keeping your pet safe means keeping them secured. All pets must be secured within a fenced yard, enclosed pen, or other structure when not inside your home. When leaving your property with your pet, they must be either in an appropriate carrier or on a leash. Even if your pet is well-trained and friendly, other animals and people may not be. Your dog MUST be on a leash at all times in public.
Dallas Animal Services strongly recommends against the use of retractable leashes [link to retractable leash graphic]. A 6-foot leash is the ideal for maintaining control over your pet.
An owner commits an offense if the owner restrains a domestic animal without providing the domestic animal access, at all times, to potable water and shelter which protects the domestic animal from direct sunlight, standing water, and extreme weather conditions, including conditions in which:
(1) the actual or effective outdoor temperature is below 32 degrees Fahrenheit;
(2) a heat advisory has been issued by a local or state authority or jurisdiction; or
(3) a hurricane, tropical storm, or tornado warning has been issued for the jurisdiction by the National Weather Service.
(a) An owner of a dog commits an offense if the fenced yard, or other outdoor pen or structure, used as the primary living area for the dog or used as an area for the dog to regularly eat, sleep, drink, and eliminate is not:
(1) at least 150 square feet for each dog six months of age or older;
(2) designed, constructed, and composed of material sufficient to prevent the dog’s escape; and
(3) designed in a manner that provides the dog access to the inside of a doghouse, building, or shelter that meets all requirements of Subsection (b) of this section.
(b) A doghouse or other building or shelter for a dog must:
(1) have a weatherproof top, bottom, and sides;
(2) have an opening on no more than one side that allows the dog to remain dry and provides adequate shade during daylight hours to prevent overheating or discomfort to the dog;
(3) have a floor that is level and dry;
(4) be free from cracks, depressions, and rough areas that might be conducive to insects, parasites, and other pests;
(5) be of adequate size to allow the dog to stand erect with the dog’s head up, to turn around easily, and to sit and lie down in a comfortable and normal position;
(6) have sufficient clean and dry bedding material or other means of protection from the weather that will allow the dog to retain body heat when the weather is colder than what a dog of that breed and condition can comfortably tolerate;
(7) provide a suitable means for the prompt elimination of excess liquid;
(8) be structurally sound, maintained in good repair, and constructed with material that protects the dog from injury; and
(9) allow the dog easy access in and out.
What This Means
If you choose to keep your pets outdoors, you must provide them with adequate protection from the elements as well as fresh, clean water. Pets must be brought indoors or provided with shelter that adequately protects them from extreme heat, freezing temperatures or inclement weather.
Dallas Animal Services recommends against housing domestic pets outdoors. Your pet will have a far better quality of life inside your home than outside 24/7. If you see a pet left outdoors during a heat advisory, temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, or storm/hurricane/tornado warning, or with inadequate housing as outlined above, please make an Animal Lack of Care report by calling 311, using the OurDallas app, or online.
(a) A person commits an offense if he or she knowingly confines a dog or cat in an unattended motor vehicle for more than five minutes under conditions that, in the opinion of a trained peace officer, animal services officer, or licensed veterinarian, endanger the health of the dog or cat due to extreme temperatures, lack of adequate ventilation, or other circumstances that could reasonably be expected to cause the suffering, disability, or death of the dog or cat and as demonstrated by, but not limited to, the dog or cat’s excessive drooling or panting, lethargic behavior, collapse, vomiting, or convulsions.
(b) A peace officer, animal services officer, or licensed veterinarian may, after reasonably attempting to locate the dog or cat’s owner, remove the dog or cat from the motor vehicle using any reasonable means, including breaking a window or lock. If professional services are required to remove the cat or dog from the vehicle, the owner is responsible for the cost of professional services. A peace officer, animal services officer, or licensed veterinarian who removes a dog or cat from a motor vehicle in accordance with this section is not liable for any resulting property damage.
(c) This section does not create a cause of action for damages or enforcement of this section.
What This Means
When transporting your pet in a truck, they must be contained in a carrier, kennel, or other device that prevents them from falling out of the vehicle. It is also unlawful to leave a dog or cat unattended in a motor vehicle for more than five minutes. A police officer, animal services officer, or veterinarian concerned for the safety of your pet may break into your car or obtain professional services to open your vehicle. You will be liable for the cost of those professional services or any damage to your vehicle.
The temperature inside your car can rise rapidly even on mild days and cause heat stroke or death in a matter of minutes. Leave your pet at home when running errands.
(a) A person commits an offense if the person sells, exchanges, barters, gives away, or transfers, or offers or advertises for sale, exchange, barter, give away, or transfer, a dog or cat four months of age or older unless:
(1) the dog or cat is currently vaccinated or cannot be vaccinated due to health reasons as verified by a licensed veterinarian; and
(2) the person has a current registration receipt and registration tag for the dog or cat.
(b) It is a defense to prosecution under Subsection (a) if the person is:
(1) animal services;
(2) an animal welfare organization; or
(3) an animal adoption agency.
(c) Except as provided in this subsection, a retail pet store commits an offense if the retail pet store sells, exchanges, barters, gives away, or transfers, or offers or advertises for sale, exchange, barter, give away, or transfer, a dog or cat, regardless of age.
What This Means
It is illegal in the City of Dallas for retail pet stores to sell dogs or cats. Pet stores are welcome to work with local animal welfare agencies to adopt out shelter pets. Individuals are also prohibited from selling unvaccinated dogs or cats over the age of four months without current registration paperwork.
Dallas Animal Services strongly urges prospective pet owners to search for their new pet at a local shelter or rescue. If you are in need of a pet with specific attributes, please review our recommendations on responsible pet acquisition.
(b) A person commits an offense if he harbors more than four dogs, cats, or any combination of dogs and cats on the premises of a dwelling unit that shares a common wall with another dwelling unit.
(c) A person commits an offense if he harbors more than:
(1) six dogs, cats, or any combination of dogs and cats on the premises of a dwelling unit that shares no common wall with another dwelling unit and that is located on not more than one-half acre of land; or
(2) eight dogs, cats, or any combination of dogs and cats on the premises of a dwelling unit that shares no common wall with another dwelling unit and that is located on more than one-half acre of land.
What This Means
If you live in an apartment, townhome, duplex, or other unit with shared walls, the maximum number of dogs and/or cats you can have is four. If you live in a single family home with half an acre or less of land, the maximum number of dogs and/or cats you can have is six. If you live in a single family home with more than half an acre of land, the maximum number of dogs and/or cats you can have is eight.
Only acquire the number of pets you can reasonably care for. Every pet needs attention, medical care, vaccines, food, water, comfort, enrichment and supervision. Make sure you have the resources you need to care for your pets.
Check with your landlord, leasing company, or insurance company to verify any additional pet restrictions that may be associated with your dwelling.
An owner of a dog commits an offense if he knowingly permits, or by insufficient control allows, the dog to defecate in the city on private property or on property located in a public place.
(b) An owner of a dog commits an offense if he:
(1) knowingly permits the dog to enter or be present on private property or on property located in a public place; and
(2) fails to have in his possession materials or implements that, either alone or in combination with each other, can be used to immediately and in a sanitary and lawful manner both remove and dispose of any excreta the dog may deposit on the property.
What This Means
Pick up your dog’s poop! Dog waste can pollute our waterways, attract rodents, and reduce quality of life for our residents. Always bring a bag with you when walking your dog.