The Importance of Dog Licensing

Why License Your Dog?
Dog licensing fees help Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter provide our community with two open-admission animal shelters which provide a safe haven for lost, unwanted, injured, abandoned and mistreated animals.

Additionally, your dog license fees support the following programs:

  • Humane investigations into animal cruelty
  • 24-hour animal rescue
  • Recovering and returning lost animals to their homes
  • Food, shelter, veterinary and humane care for stray or homeless animals
  • Adoption services for people looking to adopt a new companion
  • Low-cost spay/neuter program for Santa Cruz County pets (Planned PETHOOD)
  • Humane education

Dog licenses help reunite lost pets with their owners.

Owners of licensed dogs receive a helpful reminder to revaccinate their pet prior to the rabies vaccine expiration date.

Owners who license their dog on time will save court costs and late fees.

It’s the law! Santa Cruz County Municipal Code Section 6.08.010, City of Santa Cruz Municipal Code Section 8.14.010, City of Watsonville Municipal Code Section 6-1.401 and City of Scott’s Valley Municipal Code Section 6.12.010 require that all dogs over 4 months of age be licensed. Failure to license or renew your dog’s license could result in a $100 citation.

Benefits of a Santa Cruz County Dog License
Dog licenses are considered permits mandating specified responsibility and privileges of ownership. Dog licensing fees help Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter provide our community with two open admission animal shelters which provide a safe haven for lost, unwanted, injured, abandoned and mistreated animals.

A Countywide Dog License Program Benefits the Community by:

  • Reuniting lost pets with their owners. A dog license can be traced 24 hours a day, every day of the year by an on-call animal control officer in any part of the county. Prior to the dog license, dog owners were only required to have a current rabies tag on their dog. Rabies tags could only be traced through the issuing veterinary clinic and only when the clinic was open.
  • Ensuring that dogs are vaccinated against rabies, a fatal disease.
  • Protecting pet owners and their animals by tracking dangerous and aggressive dogs and habitual offenders of animal laws.
  • Reducing the number of unwanted animals by encouraging owners to spay and neuter pets by differential fees.
  • Providing additional revenues to Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter to help provide funding for the rescue, shelter and care for the County’s lost, unwanted, injured, abandoned and mistreated animals.
  • Providing important information on pet populations in cities and can affect how government resources are allocated to fund animal related programs.


Licensing Benefits to Public Health

  • Rabies is a current threat to human and animal health. Dog licensing lowers the overall cost and health risk by making certain that dogs are vaccinated and by providing revenue for prevention programs.
  • A single rabies incident resulting from a dog whose vaccination has expired costs you, the taxpayer, thousands of dollars. This money could be saved and used elsewhere if the dog’s vaccination had been current.


Licensing Your Dog is the Law

Santa Cruz County Municipal Code Section 6.08.010, City of Santa Cruz Municipal Code Section 8.14.010, City of Watsonville Municipal Code Section 6-1.401 and City of Scott’s Valley Municipal Code Section 6.12.010 require that all dogs over 4 months of age be licensed. Failure to license or renew your dog’s license could result in a $100 citation.