Licensing & Identification

Why? Simply put, its the law.

  • California law and city ordinances require all dogs over the age of four months to be vaccinated and licensed. If you are cited for owning an unlicensed dog, you could face fines of $50-$150 per dog. Also if your pet is becomes lost, a license tag on your pet's collar is the fastest way to reunite you and your pet. Even if a pet has a microchip, a license tag is immediately visible and doesn't require a scanner.
  • A rabies tag which may be provided by your veterinarian is separate from a license tag. The issuer of the rabies tag cannot license your pet. It is your responsibility to license their pet with Palo Alto Animal Services or your local Animal Control provider.
  • The fee you pay for your pet license keeps services and programs going. It is a significant source of revenue for Animal Control and allows us to provide animal related services to the residents of Palo Alto, Los Altos, and Los Altos Hills. Licensing your pet helps us to find new homes for unclaimed or surrendered pets, keep neighborhoods safe from aggressive animals and provides funding for our low cost spay and neuter and vaccine clinic.

Many people living in countries without rabies control die each year from contracting this disease. Rabies is almost always fatal. Every State in the union requires their counties and cities to protect their citizens from contracting rabies by mandating that every owned dogs (and sometimes cats) be given a rabies vaccination.  The only way for cities to avoid being in violation of this State mandate is to require their citizens to vaccinate their pets. Cities have no way of obtaining proof that their residents have complied with the law unless they have a record. In order to obtain a record, cities must require residents to license their pets with the caveat being they cannot license their pet without first supplying proof of rabies. The City of Palo Alto can then ensure that all dogs licensed in their jurisdiction have proof of rabies and are in compliance with the State Rabies Mandate. (See State of California H&S Code 121690, CCR Title 17 Section 2606.4, Palo Alto Muni Code 6.16.010, Los Altos Muni Code 5.12.010, and Los Altos Hills Muni Code 6-1.511)


*As of 2/19/19, Dog Licensing is handled by Pets In Need at the Palo Alto Shelter. For more info, and to download their license application, go to PETSINNEED.ORG/ANIMALSERVICES