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San Diego Humane Society

Licensing FAQs

Why does my dog need to be licensed?
  • It is the law. San Diego County (62.610 and 62.620) and California Health and Safety Code (121690) and the cities of Oceanside (4.17), Vista (6.07.010) and Imperial Beach (6.04.110) require all dogs to be vaccinated against rabies and to obtain a license within 30 days (a) of all dogs reaching four months of age; (b) of acquiring a dog, or (c) after moving to Escondido, Imperial Beach, Oceanside, Poway, San Marcos or Vista. Failure to do so within this time will result in a late fee and/or a citation. If your dog ends up at our campus and is licensed, your fees will be less. If an unlicensed and unaltered dog (running at large) is brought to a San Diego Humane campus, the fines to retrieve the dog start at $150 per day. The fines are set by the California Food & Agriculture Code (30804.7) and local ordinances.
     
  • Licensed dogs have a higher chance of being reunited with their owners if they get lost. Humane Law Enforcement officers will try to return the dogs directly to their home if the dog is wearing an up-to-date tag.

  • Important health information about your dog can be placed in our licensing records so that if they get lost and end up in our care, we have a medical history for them. Purchasing your dog a license helps save the lives of animals by providing funding for pets in need that come to San Diego Humane Society.

  • A current license is proof your dog is vaccinated against rabies.

I lost my dog license tag. How can I get a replacement tag?

Replacement tags are $5  for Oceanside and Vista and will expire at the same time as the previous tag. Replacement tags are $10 for Carlsbad, Del Mar, Encinitas, Escondido, Imperial Beach, Oceanside, Poway, San Diego, San Marcos, Santee, Solana Beach and will expire at the same time as the previous tag. They are available at our Escondido, Oceanside and San Diego Campuses and also can be ordered by phone or mail.


Does it matter where I get my dog’s rabies vaccination?
  • No, but In order to get a license, your dog must receive a California-approved rabies vaccination, listed here.

Why didn't I receive new tags when I renewed my dog's license?

We only send license tags when it is a new license. When you renew your license, you keep the same license tag number; we renew the license tag number in our computer system and mail you the receipt.


Why does my license expire when the rabies vaccine expires?

Health and Safety code 121690g states that a license cannot exceed the rabies vaccination due date. It also serves as a reminder to update the rabies vaccination.


Why is the altered dog license so much cheaper than the unaltered dog license?
  • As an incentive to have your dog spayed or neutered.

  • California Food & Agriculture Code (30804.5) states that license fees are to be one-half or less than the regular fee if they are altered.

Why was my check returned?

If your check was returned, there should have been a small form explaining why it was returned (i.e. incorrect payment, need a rabies shot, etc.). Please make the needed changes and return by the appointed date to avoid any late fees. If you have any questions, please call 619-299-7012. Owners can also scan their rabies certificate or take a photo with their phones and send it to license@sdhumane.org. If you do this be sure to leave a call-back number so we can call you and collect payment over the phone.


Where can I get a rabies vaccination for my dog?

San Diego Humane Society hosts vaccination clinics at all of our campuses. Click here for schedule information. You can also get your pet vaccinated at your family vet hospital or clinic. You can also get your pet vaccinated at your family vet hospital, clinic or one of these low-cost locations


Where can I get a license if my dog already has their rabies vaccination?

After the dog receives his/her rabies vaccine, Carlsbad, Del Mar, Encinitas, Escondido, Imperial Beach, Oceanside, Poway, San Diego, San Marcos, Santee, Solana Beach and Vista residents can print a dog license application and mail it to our San Diego Campus (5500 Gaines St., San Diego, CA 92110) or come in person to our Escondido Campus (3500 Burnet Drive, 92027), Oceanside Campus (2905 San Luis Rey Road, 92058) or San Diego Campus (5480 Gaines St., San Diego, CA 92110) during normal business hours.


Where does the money for the licenses go?

All the money goes toward funding San Diego Humane Society in our mission to promote the humane treatment of animals, to prevent cruelty to animals, and provide education to enhance the human-animal bond.


What do I do if the information for my dog is wrong on the renewal form?

Mail in the renewal form with the correct information and make sure to include the dog's license tag number.


How do I change my address?

Call 619-299-7012 or email license@sdhumane.org. If you leave a message, make sure to include your pet’s license number, owner’s name and address.


Does my dog need to wear his/her tags?

Yes. Food and Agriculture code (30951) states that the dog needs to have a) a metal tag with name and address of owner; OR b) metal license tag issued by licensing authority.


Does my cat need to be licensed?

A license is not required for cats in Escondido, Imperial Beach, Oceanside, Poway, San Marcos and Vista. However, we recommend microchip identification and keeping cats indoors, in addition to a collar and name tag.


My dog does not have a current rabies vaccination - why can't I get a license?

California Code of Regulations (2606.4c) states all dogs are required to have a current rabies vaccination in order to obtain a dog license.


My dog has a medical condition that prevents him from getting a vaccination. What do I do about a license?

We would need a signed letter from your veterinarian explaining why your dog can not receive a rabies vaccination and for how long.


My dog never leaves the house; do I need a license?

Yes, a dog can still get out of the yard and a license will make it easier to return your dog.

It is the law. San Diego County (62.610 and 62.620) and California Health and Safety Code (121690) and the cities of Oceanside (4.17), Vista (6.07.010) and Imperial Beach (6.04.110) require all dogs to be vaccinated against rabies and to obtain a license within 30 days (a) of all dogs reaching four months of age; (b) of acquiring a dog, or (c) after moving to Escondido, Imperial Beach, Oceanside, Poway, San Marcos or Vista. Failure to do so within this time will result in a late fee and/or a citation. If your dog ends up at our campus and is licensed, your fees will be less. If an unlicensed and unaltered dog (running at large) is brought to a San Diego Humane campus, the fines to retrieve the dog start at $150 per day. The fines are set by the California Food & Agriculture Code (30804.7) and local ordinances.


I have a rabies tag or microchip - do I still need a license?

Yes, your city ordinance states that "it shall be unlawful to own or harbor any dog within the city, except as herein provided, without first having obtained a license..." A rabies tag only provides proof of rabies vaccine and does not qualify as a dog license; a microchip only provides proof of ownership.


I no longer own the dog / my dog passed away / I moved out of Carlsbad, Del Mar, Encinitas, Escondido, Imperial Beach, Oceanside, Poway, San Diego, San Marcos, Santee, Solana Beach and Vista.

Please mark the appropriate box and return the renewal notice or contact us at 619-299-7012 or license@sdhumane.org.


I did not pay my license by the renewal date - is there a late fee?

Yes, there is a $20 late fee per Oceanside (4.18), Vista (6.07.020), Carlsbad, Del Mar, Encinitas, Escondido, Imperial Beach, Oceanside, Poway, San Diego, San Marcos, Santee, Solana Beach and Vista.


I have recently renewed my dog's license and now I have a delinquency notice. Why did this happen?

There is a three-week turnaround time on renewals so they might have crossed in the mail. If you notice a problem with your renewal form, please contact us at 619-299-7012 or email license@sdhumane.org so we can make sure that you will not receive another notice.


I just received an Administrative Citation, what do I do?
  • The dog owner must purchase a dog license at the San Diego Humane Society Escondido, Oceanside or San Diego Campus. We recommend visiting one of our campus locations in person to process the Administrative Citation. Proof of a current rabies vaccine is required and can be obtained from any state-licensed veterinarian.

  • Late fees need to be paid when purchasing a license.

  • If you no longer own the dog, no longer live in the jurisdiction, etc. please contact the San Diego Humane Society immediately at 619-299-7012 so we can make the proper changes.

  • Follow the directions on the back of the Administrative Citation to ensure compliance and avoid any additional penalties.

  • It is your responsibility to pay the Administrative Citation within 30 days of issuance, including weekends and holidays.

What do I need to do to license my assistance/service dog?

Complete the assistance/service dog application and mail or fax it back to the address at the top of the application. Be sure to include a copy of your personal photo ID and your dog's current rabies vaccine and ONE of the following:

  • A copy of your Dr.'s note or prescription OR
  • A copy of their handicapped placard OR
  • A copy of their SSDI award letter

All licensing fees are waived (by law) for service dog licensing.


How do I renew my assistance/service dog's license?

To renew your dog's municipal license, mail a copy of the dog's rabies booster to San Diego Humane Society Licensing Department at 5480 Gaines St., San Diego, CA 92110. We will update the license through to the rabies expiration date. Service tags (the large gold ones) are lifetime tags and do not need renewal.


Does my assistance/service dog need a dog license?

Yes. All assistance/service dog's municipal licenses must be kept up to date like a normal license.


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