Licensing & Identification
Why obtain a dog license? Simply put, it's the law!
Many people living in countries without rabies control die each year from contracting the 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 dog (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).
- If you are cited for owning an unlicensed dog, you could face fines of $50-$150 per dog. Also if your pet 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.
How to License your dog with Pets in Need (City of Palo Alto licensing contractor)
- *NEW in 2020!* License your dog online
- Download and complete the license application/renewal form
- Submit the application with your payment, rabies certificate, and spay/neuter certificate (if applicable).
- By mail or in person: Mail or bring your completed application and required certificates to 3281 E. Bayshore Road, Palo Alto, CA 94303. If coming in person, arrive anytime during Monday-Saturday from 12:00-5:00 pm. *Due to COVID-19, office hours for dog licensing have been suspended until further notice*
- You live in Palo Alto, Los Altos, or Los Altos Hills
- Current rabies certificate
- License fee, payable by cash, check, or debit/credit card (Visa, MasterCard, American Express)
- Proof of spay/neuter (not required, but will reduce license fee by 1/2)
If your veterinarian has determined that receiving the rabies vaccine is a health hazard for your dog, you may file for an exemption from the rabies vaccine under State of California H&S Code 121690 to still obtain a dog license, which is still required by law. Download and complete the exemption form and submit as above.