Rules of Pet Ownership

County Animal Licenses Required

All owners, harborers or keepers of dogs and cats in unincorporated Jefferson County are required to have their inside and outside dogs and cats licensed with the Division of Animal Control, annually or every three years as determined by the type of rabies vaccination the animal has received. The County Animal License is required to be displayed on the dog’s collar at all times, even when the animal is indoors.

A rabies vaccination must be administered by a licensed practicing veterinarian, who will issue a Rabies Vaccination Certificate, as proof that animal has a current rabies vaccine. The County Animal License application (PDF) can be obtained from some area veterinarians or from the Animal Control Center. The application must be completed and submitted to the Animal Control Center, along with the appropriate licensing fee and a copy of the Rabies Vaccination Certificate.

Rabies Vaccination Required 

All owners, harborers, or keepers of all dogs and cats must have their pets vaccinated against rabies with either the one-year vaccination or the three-year vaccination, and this vaccination must be registered with the Division of Animal Control. The anti-rabies vaccine can only be legally administered by a licensed, practicing veterinarian. If the veterinarian issues a metal rabies tag, the rabies vaccination tag must be displayed on the dog or cat’s collar at all times, even if the animal is kept indoors.

Dogs & Cats are Prohibited from Running at Large (Leash Law)

Jefferson County ordinances prohibit dog and cat owners, harborers or keepers from allowing their animals to run at large. Running at large means the animal is allowed to freely roam, off of the owner, harborer or keeper’s property without being under an approved form of physical restraint. County ordinances also require animal owners, harborers or keepers to provide "adequate control" over their animals to ensure the animal cannot pose a threat to a person, another animal, or itself; or cause damage to personal property. Animals allowed to run at large are not "adequately controlled," which is also a form of animal neglect.

The "leash law" that requires that dogs and cats, when off of the property of their owners, harborers or keepers, must be under the physical restraint of a leash, tether, leader or other form of physical restraining device. Jefferson County ordinances do not recognize verbal command or electronic ("shock") collars as physical restraints.

Animal Owners, Harborers or Keepers Must Provide Adequate Care and Control for Their Animals

Jefferson County requires animal owners provide adequate care and control of their animals. Harborers are people who provide food, water, shelter or veterinary care for animals not their own Keepers are people who have custodial responsibility for someone else’s animal.

Adequate Care includes providing wholesome, species and age appropriate food for an animal; clean, fresh water for an animal; adequate shelter to keep the animal protected from the elements; and any such medical attention as may be necessary to ensure the health and welfare of the animal. Animals must be provided a secure, clean, healthy living environment as well.

Adequate Shelter must be species appropriate and large enough for the animal to stand up with at least six inches of space above its head and turn around inside the shelter. Shelters must be constructed in such a manner as to provide four walls, a roof, and floor, to protect the animal from the elements.

Owners, Harborers or Keepers Must Not Allow Their Animals to Attack or Bite Another Domesticated Animal or Person

Animal owners, harborers or keepers must not allow their animals to attack and cause injury to another domesticated animal or to a human. An animal attack occurs when there is physical contact between one animal and another, or between an animal and a human that causes an injury or damage. An animal bite occurs when the teeth of an animal break the skin of another animal or human deep enough to cause the possibility of rabies virus exposure. When an animal attacks and bites another animal, it is causing damage to personal property. When an animal attacks and bites a human being, it is exposing the human to disease and injury. Animal owners, harborers or keepers can be held responsible for damages to personal property or for injuries to a human being.