What’s the Law in L.A.?
Los Angeles’ Municipal Code is one of the most progressive in the country when it comes to protecting animals. It helps ensure that residents care responsibly for cats and dogs by having them spayed or neutered, licensed, and vaccinated against rabies and by never chaining them for long periods.
We’ve summarized the Municipal Code requirements below, so it’s easy to make sure you’re doing the right thing. You can read the full Municipal Code online.
Spaying and Neutering
In the city of Los Angeles, all cats and dogs over the age of 4 months must be spayed or neutered unless certain conditions are met or a breeding permit is purchased and renewed annually. Fines for noncompliance can reach $500 per animal, and repeated failure to comply by having the animal sterilized is a misdemeanor. Animals who are impounded will be sterilized and microchipped at their guardian’s expense.
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All dogs over the age of 4 months must be licensed by law, and their guardians must have proof of their anti-rabies vaccination. Licenses must be renewed every one, two, or three years, and spayed or neutered dogs qualify for a lower license fee. Puppy certificates are available for dogs under 4 months of age and must be replaced with a regular dog license within 45 days after the puppy reaches 4 months.
Licensing also helps ensure that you’re quickly reunited with your animals if they become lost. Plus, a portion of the fee goes to the Animal Sterilization Fund, which provides monies to enable low-income residents to have their animals fixed. Apply for a dog license online—it’s easy!
It’s unlawful to chain a dog to any stationary object, except in very specific circumstances and for a limited amount of time. If you see a dog chained outside, call Los Angeles Animal Services at 888-452-7381 to report it so that the organization can investigate and inform the dog’s owner about proper care or rescue the dog.
Chaining deprives dogs of companionship, exercise, and mental stimulation, and many chained animals are terribly neglected, including being denied proper food, water, shelter, and veterinary care, not to mention exercise, love, companionship, and respect! Female chained dogs who aren’t spayed have no way to escape roaming males, so countless puppies have been born to mothers who are trapped at the end of a chain.
It’s illegal to have a dog off-leash on any public street, in a park, or in any other public area. Anytime dogs are off private property, they must be on a leash that does not exceed 6 feet in length. L.A.’s leash law keeps your dog, other animals, and people safe. Keeping dogs leashed while in public helps protect them from getting hit by cars, attacked by other dogs, and being stolen or harmed by people. Leashes longer than 6 feet are dangerous to your dog, as they make it more difficult to get to your animal quickly if you need to.
Want to help multiple animals at once? Why not purchase a leash and other canine accessories from the PETA Catalog? All profits from merchandise sales go directly to supporting PETA’s vital work for animals, so you can help all animals while keeping your pup safe.
Is “No-Birth” Different From “No-Kill”?
Yes! Every kind person wants to see a day when no healthy, behaviorally sound animals must be euthanized in shelters for lack of good homes. That’s one of the reasons why Los Angeles passed its spay/neuter law—to stop the cause of cat and dog homelessness.
Becoming a “no-birth” community, by ensuring that all cats and dogs are sterilized, is the key to becoming a “no-kill” community. It’s humane, effective, and sustainable—unlike anti-euthanasia polices at taxpayer-funded shelters. When shelters declare themselves “no-kill” before the animal birth rate is controlled, they quickly fill up and start turning animals away—leaving them in the hands of people who can’t or won’t care for them, or on the streets, where they suffer and face a painful death from starvation, traffic accidents, weather extremes, or another cruel fate.
Some “no-kill” facilities are in fact run by hoarders who warehouse animals in cages for years and deny them veterinary treatment, attention, adequate care, and the opportunity to exercise. MSNBC.com reports that groups calling themselves “rescues” and “shelters” currently account for one-quarter of the estimated 6,000 new hoarding cases recorded annually in the U.S. That’s why it’s so important to take stray animals (or your own, if you can no longer care for them) only to well-run, open-admission shelters that never turn animals away or hoard them in cages.
The solution to animal homelessness is ending the runaway birth rate. Together, we can do that by complying with Los Angeles’ spay/neuter law and taking advantage of the many resources that are available to help.
What Difference Does Spaying or Neutering One Animal Make?
A big one! Just one unfixed female dog can have more than 100 puppies during her lifetime, and males can father literally thousands. In just one and a half years, one female cat can give birth to 36 kittens, who can begin reproducing in just four months. Even if you manage to find loving, permanent homes for all the puppies or kittens your animal brings into the world, there will be that many fewer homes for animals in shelters who desperately need to be adopted. And unless you ensure that all the puppies and kittens you place are spayed or neutered before going to their new homes, they can go on to produce litter after litter of offspring themselves. Every single surgery spares lives.
What Should I Do if My Animal Is Missing?
Drop everything. Put up as many “missing” ads as you can, showing a clear photo of your animal, your contact information, and mention of a reward. Post them on telephone poles, in veterinarians’ offices, in newspapers, on social media, and on bulletin boards. Notify local shelters and visit them daily to search for your animal. Scour the neighborhood, sign up with a professional lost-animal service, and follow all leads. Please see our full list for more tips.
Where Do I Go to Adopt an Animal?
Shelters across Los Angeles are full of animals of all ages, sizes, and personalities who are waiting for loving homes. If you have the time, money, and ability to care for an animal for life, please visit Los Angeles Animal Services’ adoption page, Los Angeles County’s adoption page, or Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA to view adoptable animals.
I Found an Animal—What Should I Do?
Stay calm and do not leave the animal unattended. For domesticated animals, take your animal rescue kit, if you have one, and approach very slowly and quietly, avoiding eye contact and staying as low to the ground as possible. If the animal is injured, stop any bleeding by applying direct pressure with a clean towel or bandage, and then apply a bandage. Rush the animal to the nearest veterinarian, emergency animal clinic, or animal shelter.
For wildlife, if the animal can be safely moved, place him or her in a covered box or carrier and put the box in a dark, quiet place. Make sure that the animal doesn’t get too hot or cold and can breathe inside the box. Don’t feed the animal or offer him or her water. Contact an animal control or state wildlife agency or a local licensed wildlife rehabilitator immediately. If the animal cannot be moved or safely contained, cover him or her with a towel or blanket so that he or she will stay calm until help arrives and call 911.
Most birds are protected under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). If you’re caught attempting to care for a federally protected bird without a rehabilitation permit, you could receive substantial fines for violating the MBTA. It’s also illegal to possess wild animals without a license in most states because they require expert handling and care, so please contact an animal control agency or wildlife rehabilitation center and transport them for care immediately.
If you’re unsure of what to do, please call PETA for help—at any time of the day or night—at 757-622-7382 and dial 2.
What Else Can I Do?
- Spread the word! Give these free materials to your friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers to make sure that they know about Los Angeles’ spay/neuter law and to encourage them to take advantage of low-cost and free sterilization services.
- Give out spay/neuter information cards. Print these business-sized cards and keep them in your wallet, gym bag, car, or pocket so you’ll always be ready to talk to folks about the law and explain how easy and affordable it is to get their dogs and cats “fixed”!
- Display ‘Let’s Fix L.A.’ posters. Print our adorable “Let’s Fix L.A.” posters and hang them at the dog park, community center, coffee shop, or anywhere else that people will see them!
- Share this page! Spread the word on social media or send an e-mail to your friends and family, because we can all help fix L.A.!
- Work or volunteer for Los Angeles Animal Services.
- Take the Pledge! Commit to helping end animal homelessness by having your companion animals spayed or neutered, informing others about the importance of spaying and neutering, and never buying animals from a breeder or a pet store.