Public Health Department (PHD)

Responsible Pet Owner Ordinance Effective January 1, 2010


What is the purpose of this ordinance?
The ordinance was created to reduce the number of animals in shelters and reduce the number of animals being euthanized.  Returning pets to owners in a timely manner and reducing the number of unwanted animals are key methods to reduce these numbers.


What does the ordinance do?
The ordinance focuses on animal licensing and the alteration of animals. 

The key concepts are:
• All dogs over 4 months are required to be licensed
• All unaltered cats over 6 months are required to be licensed
• No license is required for altered cats
• Unaltered Animal Licenses in the unincorporated County require a Veterinary Certificate


Why is licensing good for pets, owners and the community?

  • A license is the best way to quickly get a lost animal back home
  • The required rabies vaccination for dogs prevents the spread of a potentially fatal disease
  • Getting animals home through licensing will relieve overcrowding in our animal shelters and euthanasia of animals as pets will be returned to their homes
  • Revenue from licensing supports Animal Services in caring for stray and injured animals


Will there be an education and outreach program about the ordinance?
Yes.  “Project Pet Safe” will be a multi-element education and outreach campaign established to increase the percentage of

-->Vaccinated -->Licensed  -->Micro-chipped  -->Spayed/neutered dogs and cats


There will be a media campaign including advertisements in local newspapers, radio and television ads, and sign placement on Animal Services vehicles.  Written materials to support community education and outreach will be provided in both English and Spanish.  A website is under construction.  The address will be


What do owners do if they wish to keep their dog or cat unaltered?
The owner discusses the “objectives and purpose for owning the dog or cat, and after considering the overall circumstances, including the age and health of the animal, the veterinarian concludes that the owner and dog or cat will be best served by authorizing the owner to purchase an Unaltered Animal License.”  The veterinarian then issues the Veterinary Certificate. The owner presents the certificate to purchase an Unaltered Animal License


What jurisdiction does Responsible Pet Owner ordinance apply to?
The ordinance applies only to the unincorporated County area.  The City of Lompoc has a separate spay and neuter ordinance for dogs which has been in effect for three years.


Are there any areas in the unincorporated County that do not require the Veterinary Certificate?
Yes.  Owners living on land that is zoned AG (agriculture) with a minimum of 40 acres are exempt from providing the Veterinary Certificate.  Of course, all dogs are required to be licensed per State law regardless of zoning.


How does the ordinance apply to cats?
The ordinance only applies to unaltered cats.  Unaltered cats over six months of age are required to be licensed.  Owners wanting to keep their cat unaltered are required to obtain a Veterinary Certificate and an Unaltered Animal License.   Unaltered Animal Licenses for cats are valid for one year.  The rabies vaccination requirement does not apply to cats.


What is the fee for an Unaltered Animal License? 
The Unaltered Animal License Fee is the current fee of $80 (one year) plus the $10 surcharge for a total of $90 for a one year license.


Will senior citizens (65+ years of age) be eligible for discounts on animal licenses?
Senior discounts are available for dog licenses.  There is no senior discount for an Unaltered Animal License for a cat.   A Veterinary Certificate is required for a senior to purchase an Unaltered Animal License.


How much does it cost to purchase a Santa Barbara County Animal License?


License Fees  6 mos. 1 yr  2 yr  3 yr

Duplicate tag $10

*requires signed Veterinary Certificate in
  Unincorporated County, City of Solvang, City of Buellton

Senior discount applies to persons 65 years or over

  *unaltered  $45 $80 $140 $200
  altered $13 $25 $48 $74
  *senior unaltered $32 $49   $80 $116
  senior altered $11 $22 $35 $52
  *unaltered cat   $80    
  *senior unaltered    $43    
Late Penalty
  Unaltered $35      
  Altered $17      
Optional Cat License - Altered - 3 years or term of rabies vaccination $15.00



If a pet owner has an unaltered dog that is currently licensed, does the pet owner need to get a Veterinary Certificate and a new license or can he/she wait until the existing license expires?
The current unaltered dog license is valid until the expiration date.  The pet owner should wait until the license is scheduled to renew.


The ordinance requires that licensing of dogs is required at 4 months of age with altering required by six months of age.  What should a pet owner do if their veterinarian is recommending spay/neuter at six months or older?
»This is a good opportunity to utilize a six month term license if the plan is to alter the animal in that timeframe.
Dogs and cats six months of age or older that do not meet the requirement to purchase an Unaltered Animal License shall be spayed or neutered.


Is a rabies tag the same thing as an animal license?  What are the requirements for having an animal wear a license tag?
An animal license is not the same thing as a rabies tag.  Some owners believe their animal is licensed because they have a rabies tag.  Proof of a current rabies vaccination is required to purchase a license.  Wearing the license tag is key to finding owners of animals


What are the requirements for having an animal wear a license tag?
In Santa Barbara County, animals that are required to be licensed are required to wear the license tag at all times.  This shows anyone seeing the animal that it is owned and facilitates prompt return to the owner if the animal is lost.

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Animal Services
Santa Barbara: 5473 Overpass Road, Goleta, CA 93117 • Telephone: (805) 681-5285   SBAHS on Facebook
Lompoc: 1501 West Central Avenue, Lompoc, CA 93436 • Telephone: (805) 737-7755
 Santa Maria: 548 W. Foster Road, Santa Maria, CA 93455 • Telephone: (805) 934-6119