Licensing & Identification

Why License Your Animal?
In Palo Alto alone, in the years from 1973 to 1993, more than 24,000 missing dogs and cats were returned to their worried owners, thanks to their pet license identification tags.

"Visitors to my home accidentally left the backyard gate open, allowing my precious cocker to get out. I searched for her for an agonizing 16 hours. The next day I received a call from the Police Department. Someone living only three blocks away found her, and kept her safely overnight. The next morning, they called the Department to report her license number. She was returned within one hour of that phone call. I was very relieved."  B. Fox, Palo Alto resident.

Lost pets with licenses or identification tags often get back to their owners directly, without having to be taken to an animal shelter. Your pet's ID tag identifies you as the owner when your pet becomes lost, and helps ensure prompt medical treatment if your pet is injured. Remember, too, that licensing your dog is a state law!

 Download a Dog License Application Form

Licensing is Easy!
Even though it's the law for all dogs over four months of age to be vaccinated against rabies and licensed, some owners either don't know the law, or don't understand that vaccination and licensing are important parts of responsible pet ownership. They don't appreciate the precious package they have in their possession.

As a responsible, caring pet owner, you understand how vaccinating and licensing helps keep your pet safe and healthy. We want to help. Our license application is short and easy to complete. Please, license your pet today. Do it for your pet and for your peace of mind.

Cat Registration
Cats are adaptable and can be quite happy--and safe--living indoors. If you choose to allow your cat outdoor privileges, we recommend our five-year identification tag program. For only $10.00 ($5.00 if your cat is spayed or neutered), you can increase the odds of your lost or injured cat being returned to you. Rabies vaccinations are not required for cat registration, but are recommended for the health and protection of all pets.

Dog Registration
More than 3,500 dogs are reported lost to our office each year. Licensing is the single most effective way to provide a network of protection for your best friend.

  • Take your dog to your veterinarian or to our weekly vaccination clinic to be vaccinated against rabies.
  • Ask the veterinarian to complete and sign the rabies information on the license application form, or attach a copy of your dog's rabies certificate, which will be returned to you. Licenses are valid only until the expiration of the rabies validation period.
  • For a 50% discount on the licensing fee, provide a certificate of neutering with the initial application.

Dogs over four months of age must be vaccinated against rabies and licensed. For the dog's protection, it must wear its license tag on a collar or harness at all times. If you acquire a dog, you have ten days in which to license it. New residents of the area should license their dogs within ten days. Licenses purchased after the deadline are subject to a late fee, in addition to the normal registration fee.

Licenses are not transferable from pet owner to pet owner, from pet to pet or from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

How to License

  • By mail: complete a license application and send it with your payment (check, Visa or Mastercard), rabies certificate and spay/neuter certificate if applicable to: Animal Services, 3281 E. Bayshore Road, Palo Alto, CA 94303.
  • In person: bring the completed application, rabies certificate and spay/neuter certificate to our office, Monday through Saturday, between 11am and 5:30pm, excluding holidays and alternate Fridays.
  • By FAX: Fax the application, rabies certificate and spay/neuter certificate to (650) 856-8591. Include your Mastercard or Visa number and card expiration date.

Dog License Fees
Duration of License: Unaltered - Altered 
0 - 12 months: $40.00 - $20.00
13 - 24 months: $60.00 - $30.00 
25 - 36 months: $80.00 - $40.00
Late Penalty: $30.00
Replacement Tag: $5.00
Cat I.D. Tag: $5.00 - $10.00

Prices effective 8/01/2012

Important Note
It is important to understand that the rabies tag you get from your vet is not a license. When you license your dog, you receive a separate license tag. You should have both tags on your dog's everyday (non-slip) collar. An additional tag bearing a contact number for you is also a good idea.

A lost animal that bears some form of identification is far more likely to be returned to its owner. There are several ways to mark your pet so that someone who finds it can reach you or an agency that can contact you.

  • ID tags (including both license tags and tags bearing contact info for the owner)
  • Tattoos
  • Microchip ID's (subdermal implants)
    See Microchipping your cat or dog.

Pet identification not only identifies you as your pet's owner, but can also help ensure prompt medical treatment if your pet is injured.

If your pet is registered with Animal Services and you must travel out of town, you can provide us with information about who will be caring for your pet during your absence or how you can be contacted.

Last Updated: Mar 18, 2015