Whether you’re new to the D.C. area or new to pet ownership, licensing your dog is a must. The licensing process, however, can prove intimidating if you haven’t done it before.
We’ve put together a comprehensive breakdown of the dog registration process in D.C. With our advice, you should have little to no issue navigating dog licensing.
Why Do I Need to Register?
Often the first question for most new dog owners is simple: Why should I register?
Well, it’s the law, for starters. D.C. Code 8-1804 asserts that all pets must be registered with the city’s health department. The registration process helps owners, as well.
For example, registration data inform the city’s decisions on upkeep for pet parks. As the number of registered dogs in the city increases, so does the need to maintain the appropriate facilities.
Registration also helps to ensure your pup can be returned safe and sound if they run away or get lost. If Fido runs off and doesn’t have an ID tag, the agency has no way to get in contact with his owner. We also strongly encourage the use of microchips in conjunction with ID tags.
What Does Registration Entail?
Once registered, dogs are required to wear a collar at all times. This is an extremely important component for identifying lost pets.
Registration is not a one-and-done process. Dogs must be re-registered annually by July 1st each year, to accurately track pet populations in the city and enforce annual vaccination requirements.
How Much Does Registration Cost?
The registration process is not free. If your dog has been spayed or neutered by a licensed vet, it will cost $15 per year to stay registered. Otherwise, you’ll pay $50 annually.
How Soon Do I Need to Register?
Your deadline for dog registration in the D.C. area depends on your dog’s age. Owners of young pups do not have to register their pet until he or she turns 4 months old. If your dog has already passed the 4-month threshold, you must register them within 10 days of adoption.
What Do I Need to Provide For Registration?
Registration requisites don’t end with annual payments. Up-to-date medical info is another requirement for dog owners.
During the licensing process, you’ll have to fill out an application requesting basic info about you, your dog, and your residence. The application requires proof of vaccinations for rabies and distemper, as well as proof of neutering/spaying, if applicable.
Owners of more than seven dogs all over 4 months of age are required to fill out a separate application. This form provides a hobbyist license to inform authorities that you’re qualified for large-scale care.
Where Do I Go to Register?
The easiest way to register your dog is to visit the D.C. government website. You can fill out an application online, via email or by sending the completed application by mail. You also can register by contacting or visiting:
- D.C. Health (Health Regulations and Licensing Administration)
- D.C. Animal Care and Control
- Oglethorpe Street Adoption and Medical Center
- Government-sponsored events for pet registration like DC Puppy Bowl and Doggie Day Swim, where city officials are on hand to conduct pet registration
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