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Does Your Pet Need A License?

By Michele C. Hollow of Pet News and Views

I took an informal poll of about 300 people and found that more that 80 percent of dog parents have purchased licenses for their dogs and 55 percent of cat parents have licenses for their cats. The 45 percent of cat parents who don’t have licenses for their cats all said the reason they didn’t think their cats needed a license was because their cats never go outside.

I got curious about the importance of licenses and learned that dog licensing arose as a need to identify the owner of a particular dog. “In the days before the development of microchips, dog licenses helped identify dogs and return roaming animals to their owners,” says Thomas Dock, CVJ and managing editor of Veterinary News Network. “In many cases, dog licenses were connected to or associated with the legal requirement for a rabies vaccination.”

Tom went on to answer the following questions:

Pet News and Views: What can happen if you don’t get a license for your dog or cat?
Tom: Depending on the jurisdiction, fines for unlicensed pets are often generated. As far as lost pets, those without licenses (and any other identification) would be at risk for being adopted to a new home or even, in some cases, euthanasia.

Pet News and Views: How often do licenses have to be updated?
Updating licenses depends on the jurisdiction. Some allow licenses to be valid for the time the rabies vaccination is valid.

Pet News and Views: Do licensing rules differ from state to state or town to town? How so?
They vary greatly. Some towns in the same state have different regulations and you can even find places where neutered pets cost less to license than intact animals.

Pet News and Views: On average, how much does a dog license cost?
I have seen costs as low as $2 and as high as $125 or $150.

Pet News and Views: How much does a cat license cost?
Again, it depends on the locale…

Pet News and Views: Where does the money go for these licenses?
In most cases, the fees collected for the licensing of pets goes to the maintenance and operation of community shelters and animal control budgets.

Does your pet have a license? If so, why or why not?

28 comments to Does Your Pet Need A License?

  • Yes, my dog has had a license. In all of my 43 years in Pennsylvania, any dog in my life has been required to have one. The rule apparently is “the dog warden can come to your house, knock on your door, and if your dog has no license you can be fined.” Well, that’s never happen but I do get one every year. Interesting.

  • Jill

    We dont pay licence fees here, we used to and then for some reason they stopped it. I dont think that they can police it in a country like ours. You will find people in rural areas who have ten hunting dogs, who is going to go and enforce the law if they are three hundred miles away in the bush…but I remember that everyone in our town used to pay licence fees.

  • Thanks Jill. I believe you are in South Africa. I love hearing news from other parts of the globe.–Best, Michele

  • sandi crist


  • Yes , Our town does require dogs licenses annually , The fee for neutered/ spayed
    is 13.70 per dog , There is a late fee if you go 3 months after the due date , If you go past the due date you can be issued a summons and fine ranging from 10 to 50 dollars ,
    We do always get licenses for our 2 dogs , Interestingly we had formerly lived in a shore town in NJ that required licenses for cats also ,
    We have been in Jackson NJ for many years now and no cat licenses are required ,
    Odd to me , Perhaps the smaller shore towns are more stringent about those things.
    I support licensing of pets as it is an indicator of being a pet w/ a home and rabies vaccine as one cannot renew w/ out proof of a current rabies shot.

  • LittleStar

    No cat License required in California…Thank Spirit…that would be another heavy Cost for My rescue work

  • Fulvia

    There nothing similar to that here in Italy.

  • Carol Hupp

    I have 7 rescued cats, none have a license. they do not go outside unless in a carrier to go to the vet. I would go to the ends of the earth to protect my kitties!!

  • PepperPom

    I don’t have a license because the county I live in doesn’t have them. So I can’t get one even if I want one.

  • Hello. I am from Canada. Where I live, they use to make you have licences for all kitties. I did some rescue, at the time so obtained a lience for the house as a kennel. They no longer have this law for cats, but I am glad I was grandfathered in, as now they are looking at allowing people to have only 3-4 pets. Dog tags are still a must, and people do not seem to mind paying. The opposite was for cats, and a lot of people in the area dropped them off at barns or had them put down, stating they were unable to afford another yearly bill.(Farms were exempt from this). I know licencing is a way of keeping track of possible horders of animals, but here it did not work and a lot of kitties lost their lives.

  • Darby

    I have 3 indoor cats in a small NJ town, and they do not have licenses.

  • If everyone would follow suit then we could control all dogs, cats and more. It’s a good thing to show of your dog with it and it should also show all the shot it had!

  • Dianne

    The county I live in in PA requires the purchase of yearly dog licenses. They are not expensive ($6.45 each for neutered dogs) and (I believe)the money funds humane officers. I also purchase a license for any foster dog that happens to be living with us. Not sure if that is required, but it makes sense that all the animals in our care should be licensed. The cost of the license varies depending on whether the dog is spayed/neutered or intact, with the intact licenses costing a little bit more ($8.45). Senior citizens or persons with disability pay a reduced fee, $4.45 (neutered) and $6.45 (intact). Cats are not required to be licensed.

  • Carol

    My dog has a license, but our 3 cats don’t. I just don’t think they need them. It’s costly too!

  • Helen Vassos

    In South Australia where I live, animals that do not remain indoors need a chip. I am not sure what this entails. However to bring Sophi my cat from Greece to Australia, she had to have a chip inserted in her.

  • We don’t have them here. we use to have dog licenses we have never had cat licenses.

  • Mary

    I live in a small NJ town, and my neighbor lost her dog. Her dog did not have a license. When she reported that her dog was lost, she was fined because she did not have a license for her dog.

  • Elinor

    Since my cats are indoor kitties, I haven’t bothered getting them licenses. They all have microchips.

  • Ray

    Our two rescued greyhounds have licenses and microchips. The licenses cost $35 each and are required every time they get their rabies shot.

  • Lois

    Our cats don’t have licenses, but our dog does. All of my pets have microchips.

  • Lucy

    Our cat goes outdoors and wears a collar and has a license.

  • Mara

    We have licenses for our two cats and two dogs. It is required by my town.

  • Joe

    We have two dogs and live right outside of Philadelphia,and our dogs have licenses and microchips. We got them at the pound & they are the best dogs ever.

  • Jordana

    I have 6 kitty cats. All are microchipped, but they don’t have licenses.

  • Lisa

    We don’t have licenses for our pets. No one ever mentioned this to me before. It seems like a way for the town to make $$.

  • Alet Coetzee

    We dont pay licence fees here in South Africa, we used to but it stopped.

  • Where I am in Canada we don’t have to license cats. This is a good thing since many have multiple cats. It wouldn’t be good news for the strays and ferals.

  • Buffy

    My dogs and my cat has license, fortheir own protection. If they run off, is much easier to find them.Here we got to license.