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Responsible Pet Owner

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Responsible Pet Ownership Ordinance FAQs

Responsible Pet Ownership Alliance

FAQs – Responsible Pet Ownership Ordinance

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 of age are required to be licensed and to wear the license tag
  • All unaltered cats over 6 months of age are required to be licensed
  • No license is required for altered cats
  • Unaltered Animal Licenses in the unincorporated County, the City of Buellton, the CIty of Guadalupe, the City of Solvang, and the City of Goleta require a Veterinary Certificate

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 is the expiration date for a Veterinary Certificate?

A Veterinary Certificate is valid for either one year or the term of the license, whichever is longer.

What jurisdiction does the Responsible Pet Ownership Ordinance apply to?

The ordinance applies only to the unincorporated County area, the City of Buellton, the City of Guadalupe, the City of Solvang, and the City of Goleta. The City of Lompoc has a separate spay and neuter ordinance for dogs which has been in effect for over three years.

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.

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.


Responsible Pet Ownership Alliance

The Responsible Pet Ownership Alliance is comprised of both public and private agencies collaboratively working together to promote pet owner responsibility throughout Santa Barbara County.

Mutual goals

  • Coordination of efforts to maximize resources
  • Collaboration with local veterinarians
  • Accessibility to affordable spay and neuter surgeries

Current members


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