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Animal Control

Benefits of Pet Licensing

A license is your pet's ticket home should he or she become lost. Tens of thousands of pets pour in to the Tacoma and Pierce County Humane Society each year. Sadly, very few of these animals have identification.

When a lost animal is found with current identification, our Animal Care and Control Officers can quickly notify its owners that it is safe at the shelter. License fees pay for many worthwhile services of the Animal Care and Control Office, such as:

  • Keeping stray animals off the streets and out of danger.
  • Transporting injured animals to veterinarians for medical help.
  • Investigating cases of animal cruelty and abuse, and seeing to a pet's general welfare.
  • Protecting your family from the threat of rabies and animal bites.

Your pet's license helps us provide better service to you, your family, and your neighborhood. Please purchase a license for your pet.

Licensing Laws

Municipal Code Requires That All Cats and Dogs be Licensed

If you live in the City, you are required by law to license your pets.  License tags must be worn by dogs at all times.  If your cat has a microchip, you are still required to purchase the license. However, that cat can go without its tag. Please call (253) 627-7387 for information on licensing.  Keep in mind, that even indoor-only pets confined to fenced yards can get loose.

Leash Law

All dogs are required to be on a leash no longer than eight feet or confined to their owner's property at all times.  The only exception provided for the leash law ordinance is if the dog is in a designated off-leash area.  Dogs roaming free are in violation of the leash law ordinance.  They may be seized or impounded by City of Tacoma Animal Care and Control officers.  Owners of dogs running loose may receive a summons or a fine. 

To report a loose dog or for more information regarding the leash law, please call (253) 627-7387.

There is no leash law for cats.

Spaying and Neutering

Be a responsible pet owner.  Spay or neuter your pet.  Only you can help stop the tragic euthanasia of healthy, adoptable animals.  You can help by spaying or neutering your pets today.  Spaying or neutering your pets makes them healthier, happier, and less susceptible to certain types of disease.

If you know someone who cannot afford to spay or neuter their pet, the Tacoma Humane Society can help.  Call (253) 294-5857 for more information.

Pooper Scooper Law

You may take walks with your pet.  Along the way your pet might do a little something on the sidewalk.  Make sure to scoop up the poop and dispose of it in the garbage in a sealed plastic bag or flush it down the toilet.  No matter how big or small the deposit, it will pollute our waters.  Pet waste has harmful bacteria in it that contributes to water quality problems, possibly in your neighborhood.  With all the pets it adds up, so do your part to clean it up.

17.02.132 Removal of Animal Waste

Ordinance 27672 Ex. A - Passed Dec. 11, 2007

  • It is a violation for any person to fail to immediately remove fecal matter deposited by a dog or other animal in his or her possession on public property such as park property, school grounds, public rights-of-way, or public easements or on private property that does not belong to the animal’s owner or custodian.
  • This section shall not apply to a “guide” or “service” dog, as now or hereafter defined in RCW 70.84, while the dog is in harness.

17.02.160  Violations – Civil Infraction

Ordinance 27558 - 11 - Passed Dec. 5, 2006
Ordinance 26949 - 6 - Passed Jul. 16, 2002

Unless specifically designated in this chapter as a gross misdemeanor or misdemeanor or is specified to be enforced pursuant to other law including, but not limited to, other chapters or titles of this Code, any violation of this chapter is a violation and shall constitute a Class 1 infraction, not to exceed $250, not including statutory assessments.
Such penalty is in addition to any other remedies or penalties specifically provided by law. For each act herein prohibited of a continuing nature, each day shall be considered a separate offense.

Stray Animals
Stray animals are defined as any animals loitering in a neighborhood or any public place without an apparent owner or home.  A stray animal running at large within the City of Tacoma is declared to be a nuisance and may be seized and impounded. 

Microchip Information
Thousands of pets are lost every year and many are never reunited with their owners. Microchipping is way of permanently linking pets to their owners, increasing the chances of your pet being returned.   A tiny microchip is injected under the animal's skin. Once in, the microchip cannot move or be seen, but can be read by a scanner.  Most animals can be micro chipped but Uta's most commonly used on dogs, cats and horses.  For more information on Microchipping please contact your veterinarian.  Microchipping does not alleviate the pet owner's responsibility to purchase a City of Tacoma pet license.

Injured or Sick Animals
Animals picked up by the Animal Control Officers which are suffering from serious injury or disease may be humanely destroyed by the animal control agency, but only after the animal control agency has immediately notified the owner if the owner is known. However, if the owner is unknown, then a reasonable effort will be made to locate and notify the owner.

Found Animals
Impounded animals, which mean animals received into the custody of the animal control shelter or animal control officers are held for 48 hours following actual notice to the owner.  The notifying of any person over the age of 18 who resides at the owner's domicile shall constitute actual notice to owners.  If the owner of an impounded animal is unknown, then the animal control agency shall make a reasonable effort to locate and notify the owner.   

Animals not picked up by the owners within 48 hours will be placed up for adoption by the Tacoma Pierce County Human Society.  For assistance in locating your lost pet, use the Tacoma Humane Society's Lost and Found Pets Guide. You can also call the Found Pet Recording phone number.  For dogs call (253) 596-8561 and for cats call (253) 596-8989.  You will hear a listing of all the pets found on the previous day.  Each pet found is only listed once, on the first business day following the date of impound.

Deceased Animals

For pickup of stray deceased or injured animals please contact Animal Control at (253) 627-PETS (7387).

Animal Shelter

Animals impounded are taken to the Tacoma Pierce County Humane Society.

Tacoma Human Society
2608 Center Street
Tacoma, WA 98409  
(253) 383-2733

Animal Cruelty

If you suspect neglect of a pet that is causing suffering, collect pertinent information such as the persona's name, address, phone, description of the animal(s), a brief history of the situation and any other specifics such as the exact location where the animal(s) can be found. Then call The City of Tacoma Animal Control to report it at (253) 627-7387.  If you are witnessing deliberate cruelty causing severe injury or death to an animal, call 911 and request police intervention. Physical observations to look for:

  • Does the animal have access to food, water and shelter?
  • Is his/her area clean?
  • Does the animal have apparent injuries that have not been treated?
  • Does the animal appear to be overly aggressive or timid?
  • Does the animal appear to be neglected? Neglect is vaguely defined as failure to provide an animal with necessary food, water, shelter, rest, sanitation, ventilation, space, or medical attention.

Animal Bites

For immediate medical attention please call 911.  All animal bites must be reported to the Health Department, to report an animal bite call (253) 798-7694.  For more information regarding animal bites please contact Animal Control at (253) 627-7387. 

Aggressive animals
Aggressive animals may be sign of neglect or a potentially dangerous dog.  For concerns regarding aggressive animals please contact Animal Control at (253) 627-7387.

Helpful Links

There are many resources for pet owners in the City of Tacoma.  Below you will find links to the local area shelter, State offices, and not-for profit assistance.

Humane Society for Tacoma & Pierce County Washington
Feral Cat Spay/Neuter Project
Welcome to the Dugan Foundation
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife