Pet Ownership Laws

I would like to share some important information with you about pet licensing in Riverside and some canvassing activity that you will probably observe. We all value our pets and they contribute greatly to our quality of life. Responsible pet ownership promotes health, safety and quality of life for the owners and the pets. The State of California and City of Riverside have enacted laws that require all dogs over four months of age be vaccinated against Rabies and be licensed. Riverside requires that dogs and cats over four months old be spayed or neutered and microchipped, although cats do not need to be licensed.

I was disappointed to learn that only about 40% of the dogs in Riverside are licensed. The vast majority of aggressive and vicious dog calls that occur in the city are for unlicensed and unaltered dogs. Most of the dogs and cats that are picked up by the Department of Animal Services are not micro-chipped, and if they don’t have a license on them the chance of them being reunited with their owners is small.

Despite the best efforts of the Department of Animal Services, and numerous rescue groups, thousands of dogs and cats from Riverside are euthanized every year. The best way to reduce this number is to prevent unwanted births through spaying and neutering. That is why Riverside requires adult dogs and cats be spayed or neutered and micro-chipped.

Because the number of licensed dogs is so low Riverside has contracted with the Department of Animal Services to go door to door canvassing for unlicensed dogs. The field personnel are able to check whether any dogs are licensed at an address with a special application on their smart phones. If they see dogs and find no record of licenses or see more dogs than are licensed they will leave an administrative citation. The citation lists hefty fines for not having animals properly licensed, vaccinated against Rabies and spayed or neutered. Most people receiving the citations don’t read past the dollar amount before they panic. These are fix it tickets like a burned out tail light on your car. You have 30 days to get the appropriate license, shots, microchip and spay or neuter. If you do the fines are waived. If you have a true need for additional time to come into compliance additional time can be granted.

As an incentive to microchip animals Riverside is offering a year of licensing free for any dog that has been recently micro-chipped. You can get low cost Rabies vaccinations, microchips and get your animals licensed at the Department of Animal Services shelter at 6851 Van Buren Blvd. (Van Buren and Clay St.), Riverside, CA, 92509. You can also get your license on the 4th floor of Riverside City Hall at 3900 Main St., or online at

Low-cost Rabies vaccines and alteration surgeries are available through the Department of Animal Services. You may call them at 951-358-PETS for dates and times of their clinics. You may also wish to arrange through your veterinarian. The Mary S. Roberts Pet Adoption Center also provides low-cost vaccinations on Saturday mornings only, 9:30am-Noon. Their phone number is 951-688-4340, and they are located at 6165 Industrial Ave., Riverside, CA 92504.

For many years Riverside did not regulate the number of dogs or cats that a person could have. This resulted in some pretty significant problems so limits were adopted a couple of years ago. You may have four adult dogs and up to nine cats so long as they are licensed, etc. If you want to have more you must apply for a residential kennel or cattery permit. If you had more than four dogs or nine cats as of the date the ordinance was adopted you may keep any animal over the limit for the rest of its life without triggering the kennel/cattery requirement. The extra animals will have to have been licensed before the ordinance took effect to be exempted in this way.

So, if you see the Animal Services people going door to door you now know why. If you get one of the citations, don’t panic, just get what you need to comply within 30 days and the fines are waived. If you need some extra time ask. They will grant reasonable requests.

If you have any questions or need assistance, please feel free to call me(Mike Gardner) or my Field Representative, Lynn Anderson 951-826-5242 and she will be happy to assist you.

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