Pet Laws in San Diego

Since July 1, San Diego Humane Society has been providing animal services in Carlsbad, Del Mar, Encinitas, San Diego, Santee and Solana Beach, in addition to the six cities and five Indian reservations we have been serving for years. With more of the county under our umbrella, more people and pets have access to expanded services and the compassionate care we are known for. Our humane law enforcement officers are present in each of these communities, seven days a week. They corral stray dogs, respond to dog bite situations, transport sick or injured wildlife to receive care at Project Wildlife and investigate animal abuse cases. Here are answers to some of the most common questions we receive about pet laws from citizens looking to be the best pet owners possible:

Who provides animal services?
• San Diego Humane Society: Carlsbad, Del Mar, Encinitas, Escondido, Imperial Beach, Oceanside, Poway, San Diego, San Marcos, Santee, Solana Beach and Vista.
• County Department of Animal Services: unincorporated areas including Ramona, Alpine, Bonsall, Campo, Fallbrook, Jamul, Julian, Spring Valley and Valley Center.
• The cities of Coronado, Chula Vista (which also serves Lemon Grove) and El Cajon, La Mesa and National City, provide residents with their own animal services.

Does my pet need a license?
Yes, for dogs across San Diego County, but for cats, only in certain areas. A license helps authorities get in touch with the owner of a lost pet quickly.

Is it against the law to have a barking dog?
Yes, it is a public offense to own or keep an animal that disturbs the peace. If you have received complaints, try keeping your dog inside at night. Keep her in an enclosure rather being tied or chained up, and give her more attention and exercise, since dogs often bark just because they are bored.

When does my dog have to be on a leash?
Away from home, your dog must be restrained on a handheld leash no longer than 6 feet, even if he is good with other dogs.

Whom do I contact for help?
Residents living in SDHS’s jurisdiction can email concerns to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (619) 299-7012 during business hours, 7:30 a.m. -6 p.m. seven days a week. After hours, contact your local law enforcement agency. Visit www.sdhumane.org for more details.

SDHS 2 -2409
SDHS 1 -2410