How to license your dog in Southern California

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Photo: Calvin Fleming on Flickr

Hey, dog owners, did you know you’re required to license your pooch?

Experts estimate that many thousands of dogs go unlicensed. But that can mean big fines, and a harder time finding your dog if it gets lost, or getting it back if it ends up at a shelter.

Here’s what you should know about licensing your dog.

When do I need to purchase a license?

L.A. County dogs require a license once they’re four months old. (Other jurisdictions may vary.) Licenses last from one to three years, depending on where you live. If you move, you may need to relicense your dog right away – check with the agency in your area (see below).

What do I need to complete the process?

Have on hand proof of your dog’s rabies vaccination, and any records of microchipping and spaying or neutering.

Vaccination is required statewide. Some municipalities, including Los Angeles County, require microchipping and sterilization; others offer cheaper licenses as an incentive.

How much will it cost?

License fees vary. Many jurisdictions charge around $20. The fee is often substantially more if your dog is not altered (spayed or neutered).

Where can I sign up?

Licensing is managed by a patchwork of public agencies and contracted non-profits. Look up your hometown on the chart below and call the agency listed. They’ll point you in the right direction.

Some municipalities offer online applications. You might also be able to fill out paperwork at your local shelter or city hall. Sometimes, licensing comes right to your door – many agencies send canvassers out to visit neighborhoods, and they sometimes hold vaccination clinics where you can also pay for a license.


What about my cat?

State law leaves cat licensing up to local discretion. LA County requires a license and a rabies vaccination. In Orange County, licenses are optional.

What about my donkey?

Los Angeles charges $14 for donkey, mule, burro, horse and pony licenses.

I want more info!

Here are licensing how-to’s from some of the major agencies.

Los Angeles County Animal Care and Control (licenses dogs in unincorporated areas and in many of the county’s cities)

Los Angeles Animal Services (licenses dogs in the cities of Los Angeles and Beverly Hills)

Long Beach Animal Care Services (licenses dogs in Long Beach, Seal Beach, Los Alamitos, Cerritos, and Signal Hill)

Orange County Animal Care (licenses dogs in unincorporated areas and in many of the county’s cities)

Southeast Area Animal Control Authority (SEACCA) (licenses dogs in Bell Gardens, Bellflower, Buena Park, Downey, Lakewood, La Palma, Montebello, South El Monte, and South Gate)

Inland Valley Humane Society (licenses dogs in Chino, Chino Hills, Claremont, Diamond Bar, Glendora, La Verne, Montclair, Mt Baldy,  Ontario, Pomona, San Antonio Heights, San Dimas, and unincorporated areas of San Bernardino County)

Pasadena Humane Society (licenses dogs in Arcadia, Bradbury, La Cañada Flintridge, Monrovia, Pasadena, San Marino, Sierra Madre, and South Pasadena)

Riverside County Department of Animal Services (licenses all dogs in the county)

San Diego County Animal Control (licenses dogs in unincorporated areas of the county and in several cities, including San Diego)