Q: As the owner of a dog or cat, what do I need to know about Dallas regulations?


A: Common sense and a strong fence will go a long way toward keeping you and your pet out of trouble. But there’s more to it than that. To keep things safe and legal, here’s how it works:

1. Register your dog or cat with the City of Dallas Animal Services department by mailing up-to-date vaccine information along with a $7 fee for spayed or neutered pets and $30 for unaltered pets. This is not just a way for the city to make some quick and easy cash. The process prevents the spread of diseases such as rabies, and helps prevent the forced euthanization (Dallas had more than 26,500 last year alone) of unwanted pets. Pet owners who do not wish to spay or neuter their pets can obtain an intact animal permit for an additional fee of $70 per year if they are a member of a purebred dog or cat club, or have completed a responsible pet ownership class.

2. Up to four dogs or cats can live in an apartment or condominium, up to six in a single-family home, or up to eight in a home with more than 1/2 an acre of land. This law became effective in 2008 and includes a grandfather clause for anyone who owned more than the allowed number prior to 2008, as well as a provision for volunteers fostering homeless dogs and pets for approved rescue groups.

3. It is illegal to tether or chain a dog. When dogs 6 months and older are confined outdoors, their yards, pens or kennels must be at least 150 square feet, and each dog must have a weatherproof, three-sided shelter.

4. When dogs or cats are outside their home or yard, keep them on a leash. The only exceptions to this are designated off-leash dog parks or free-roaming feral cats that are part of a trap, neuter, return program. When a cat is spayed or neutered through a T-N-R program, the vet “tips” one ear, so you can easily identify a participating cat in your neighborhood.

5. A dog that barks while protecting his home isn’t a dangerous dog; he’s just doing what dogs do. But one that causes injury could be officially deemed a “dangerous dog”. If a dog is outside its home or yard and causes serious injury to a person or another animal, a resident can request a city hearing to determine whether the dog should be declared dangerous. No fines are involved and no monetary damages are awarded, but if a dog is determined to be dangerous, its owner faces serious consequences. The dog may be euthanized, ordered out of the city, or allowed to return home if the owner complies with a stringent set of rules that includes paying a “dangerous dog” registration fee of $50 per year. Currently, 21 dogs that have been deemed dangerous live in Dallas.

6. Other good rules to know, whether or not you own a pet, is that it’s illegal to place poison where it is accessible to a dog or cat; to sell or give away pets on any property except for pet stores, animal shelters and animal rescue group adoption sites; to offer animals as prizes in auctions, raffles, giveaways or other promotions; to transport a dog in the open bed of a pick-up truck, unless it’s in a carrier; or to fail to pick up after your dog.

Got a maze you can’t find your way through?

Email howitworks@advocatemag.com with your question.

To view a detailed Dallas map of dangerous dogs, find state rabies statistics, and learn other animal tidbits from Rebecca Poling, visit the Back Talk blog at oakcliff.advocatemag.com.