Animal Control Laws

If you are experiencing problems with stray dogs or cats in your neighborhood, call Animal Care and Control or complete the online complaint form.


A dog must be securely enclosed or confined to its owner’s yard by a physical fence in a manner that will isolate the animal from the public and from other animals. All dogs must be behind an enclosure of at least 48 inches and declared aggressive dogs must be behind an enclosure of 60 inches. Large breed dogs and dogs with the capabilities of climbing are also recommended to be behind an enclosure of 60 inches.

Enclosures shall be made of chain link, wrought iron, brick, welded wire, wood stockade, block or other material approved by the director except where the enclosure abuts a building with a solid wall that is at least four feet tall, inclusive of windows and doors that would prevent escape. Where enclosures abut a building, there shall be minimal separation. In no case shall the separation be so great that escape would be possible.

When a dog is being walked or with its owner off its property, the dog must be on a leash and accompanied by the owner at all times. If the dog is without a leash or not accompanied by the owner, it is considered unrestrained and is in violation of the restraint ordinance.

A cat must remain within the boundaries of its owner’s property.


All female dogs and cats over the age of 6 months and male dogs and cats over the age of 8 months have to be spayed or neutered or the owner must obtain an intact pet permit. Please visit the Spay/Neuter page to download the intact pet permit and visit the Education/Outreach page for a list of available classes.


A dog, cat or ferret must be vaccinated against rabies by 4 months of age, receive a booster 12 months after that and then must be vaccinated at least once every three years.


A dog, cat or ferret must be licensed by four months of age after it has been vaccinated for rabies and the license must be renewed annually or triennially depending on the microchip status and vaccination schedule of the animal.


An owner is any person who owns, keeps, shelters, maintains, feeds, harbors or has temporary or permanent custody of a domestic or prohibited animal to remain on or about any premises occupied by the person who has control of those premises. An animal shall be deemed to be owned by a person who harbored it, fed it or sheltered it for three or more consecutive days.

Holding Period

Impounded animals, including those released from quarantine, shall be kept for three days starting with the first day after the impoundment. Disposition of the animals after three days is at the discretion of the city.

Proper Care of Animals

Every owner or other person having care and control of any animal shall provide the following for each animal under their care and control:

  1. Sufficient, nutritious and wholesome food, served in clean containers;
  2. Clean and wholesome water, served in a clean container;
  3. Adequate shelter, which allows the animal to remain dry and protected from the elements at all times and, which shall provide either natural or artificial shade to avoid direct sunlight. If the shelter is provided by enclosure, the enclosure shall allow for adequate ventilation;
  4. Veterinary care as needed to prevent suffering. Dangerous Dogs:

A dangerous dog in Fort Worth is defined as one that 1) makes an unprovoked attack on a person or other animal that causes bodily injury and occurs in a place other than an enclosure in which the dog was being kept or 2) commits unprovoked acts in a place other than an enclosure which the dog was being kept and those acts cause a person to reasonably believe that the animal will attack and cause bodily injury to that person.

Unsanitary Condition

The owner of any animal must remove manure and droppings from property, place food only in impervious containers and equip watering tanks with adequate draining.

Animal Waste

No person shall discharge, deposit or allow to accumulate on private or public property in the City of Fort Worth, any animal waste. Violators can be charged with a Class C misdemeanor.

Barking/Noise Ordinance

It is a violation to keep any animal or bird that causes frequent or long-continued noise that disturbs the comfort and repose of any person of ordinary sensibilities in the immediate vicinity. Violators can be charged with a Class C misdemeanor.

Wild and Exotic Animals

Wild and exotic animals are prohibited as pets within the city limits of Fort Worth. To find out what animals are prohibited, call the Animal Care and Control Division.


Regardless of the vaccination status of the animal at the time of the bite, the biting animal must be placed in quarantine for ten days from the day of the bite. Quarantine means placing the animal in a facility that provides:

  • absolute security,
  • isolation, and
  • daily observation by a qualified person.

State law requires owners to pay for quarantine. Quarantine must be in a Texas Department of Health approved animal shelter, veterinary clinic or the home of the animal’s owner, provided it is an in-family bite and the animal is currently vaccinated and licensed, with the approval of the local rabies control authority.


The City of Fort Worth bans the use of chains, ropes, tethers, leashes, cables or other devices to attach an unattended dog to a stationary object or trolley system. Dogs may be tethered to objects in limited circumstances when the owner is present, such as at lawful animal events or city dog parks, as well as during veterinary treatment, grooming, training or law enforcement activity.

Fort Worth Animal Care & Control strongly enforces this ordinance. Those who violate the ordinance face significant legal penalties.

For additional City Codes regarding animals and fowl, please consult the Municipal Code, Chapter 6.


Animal Noise Complaint

Animals that cause “frequent or long-continued noise” disturbing to “the comfort and repose of any person of ordinary sensibilities in the immediate vicinity” may earn their owners a fine of up to $500.

Animal Care & Control cannot impound properly confined animals, but there is a process for dealing with noise complaints.


The keeping of any animal which causes a sound or noise in violation of Sec. 23-8 of this code is declared a nuisance in violation of this section. Whatever the Director determines to be dangerous to human life or health, or that is offensive to the senses, or that is or threatens to become detrimental to the public health, is hereby declared to be a nuisance and shall be unlawful, and the specific acts, conditions and things set forth in this chapter are, among others, declared to be nuisances and prohibited and made unlawful.

Call 817-392-1234 and provide the following information:

  • address and description of animal
  • time of incident
  • other pertinent details

You will be advised to maintain a complaint log for 7 to 10 days beginning with the date that the complaint is filed. The information in the log must contain the date, times and duration of the noise nuisance.

Once you file a complaint, the Fort Worth Animal Care & Control Division will send a notice to animal owner (generally within 24 hours) or arrangements are made for an officer to stop by if there are other complaints. Owners are given 10 days from the date of the complaint to correct the problem/comply with the ordinance.

See the service for filing a complaint.

Aggressive Dogs

Aggressive Dogs

An aggressive dog in Fort Worth is defined as any dog that has:

  1. Made an unprovoked attack on another domestic animal that causes bodily injury to the animal and occurs in a place other than an enclosure in which the dog was being kept; or
  2. On more than one occasion, bitten one or more persons who are lawfully inside the dog’s enclosure; or
  3. Repeatedly attempted, successfully or unsuccessfully, to climb over, dig under, chew through, break or otherwise escape from its enclosure in an attempt to attack, chase or harass a person or another domestic animal as observed by a person charged with enforcing this chapter; or
  4. Committed unprovoked acts that would cause a person to reasonably believe that the dog will attack and cause bodily injury to a person or domestic animal.


Dangerous Dogs

Dangerous Dogs 

A dangerous dog in Fort Worth is defined as one that:

  1. Makes an unprovoked attack on a person that causes bodily injury and occurs in a place other than an enclosure in which the dog was being kept, or;
  2. Commits unprovoked acts in a place other than an enclosure which the dog was being kept and those acts cause a person to reasonably believe that the animal will attack and cause bodily injury to that person.

City of Fort Worth Animal Care & Control must be notified before any declared dangerous dog is brought into the City of Fort Worth.


(a) The owner of a Dangerous Dog shall notify the Animal Care and Control Authority within 24 hours if the Dangerous Dog is at large, unconfined, has attacked a human being or another animal, has died or has been sold or given away.

(b) If an owner of a registered Dangerous Dog sells or moves the dog to a new address, that owner, not later than the fourteenth day after the date of the sale or move, shall notify the Animal Care and Control Authority for the area in which the new address is located. Upon selling or moving the registered Dangerous Dog, that owner must notify the new owner or person who has care and control of the dog   that he or she is keeping or taking ownership of a dog that has been declared dangerous.

(c) The owner of a registered Dangerous Dog shall notify the office in which the Dangerous Dog was registered of any attacks the Dangerous Dog makes on people or other animals.

If you own a dangerous dog

If you are the owner of a dog that has been deemed dangerous, you are required to:

  • Complete an initial registration of the dog at the shelter to acquire a dangerous dog license and pay an annual registration fee.
  • Re-register the dog annually with Animal Care & Control and pay an annual registration fee.
  • Notify Animal Care & Control within 14 days if the dog is sold or moved to a new address.

Animal Care & Control will conduct quarterly inspections to ensure the dangerous dog is properly registered and still kept at the registered address.

Declared Dangerous Dogs





Date and Reason for Designation


Dottie 6409 S. Hulen St. Female (spayed) White/Brown Pitbull Mix Jan. 14, 2015: Animal-on-animal attack


Zues 6409 S. Hulen St. Male (neutered) Tan/White Pitbull Mix Jan. 14, 2015: Animal-on-animal attack
 dd-hogan.jpg Hogan 3020 Mary's Lane Male (neutered) Black/Brown Rottweiler Mix May 31, 2019: Animal-on-animal attack
 code-acc-dangerous-dog-apollo.jpg  Apollo  3725 Glenmont Dr. Male (neutered) Grey/Tan Brindle/White Pitbull Mix June 15, 2022: Dog-on-person attack 

Dead Animals

The city’s Solid Waste Division handles the pickup and removal of small dead animals on city streets, as well as on private property after the animal has been placed on the curb in a plastic bag.

To report a dead animal, call the customer service center 817-392-1234 or use the online reporting form.

Solid Waste Services will respond to request within 24 hours.

Customer Service Center Hours:

  • Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-6 p.m.
  • Saturday, 7 a.m.-4 p.m.

Dog Fighting

The vicious “sport” of dog fighting is still thriving, despite the public outrage. Fort Worth enforcement agencies have been pro-active in their approach to combating dog fighting by aggressively following up on any suspected activity.

The Humane Society of the United States estimates that more than 40,000 people participate in organized dogfighting in the U.S., and hundreds of thousands more take part in impromptu street dogfighting.

Signs of Suspected Dog Fighting

  • Many dogfighters keep pit bulls.
  • Many times dogs will be on heavy logging chains, sometimes with padlocks.
  • Fighting scars can be found on the face, front legs, hind ends, and thighs. Puncture wounds, swollen faces, and mangled ears are also telltale signs of fighting.
  • Recognizing Training Equipment
    • Fight-dog training requires strength. Notice dogs with weights on their collars.
    • Jaw-strengthening exercise involves tires or other items suspended from trees or pipes.
    • Treadmill exercise conditions dogs and a treadmill-like device called a “cat mill” confines a cat or other “bait” for dogs to chase.

How to Report

  • If you witness a dogfight in progress, call 911 immediately.
  • If you suspect dog fighting activities, dogs that are in danger, neglected or abused, submit an online report to Fort Worth Animal Care & Control, or call 817-392-1234

Pet Licenses & Fees

Pet microchips

As of June 26, 2018, registered microchips are required in Fort Worth for all dogs and cats. Microchipping your pet is the best way to make sure he or she gets home when lost.

Identification microchips are about the size of a grain of rice and are implanted under your pet’s skin at the shoulder, and it can’t be easily lost or removed like a collar tag. All microchips are listed in a database, making it easy for animal control to reunite pets and owners.

Microchips are available through TCAP, from Fort Worth Animal Care & Control and veterinary clinics. Owners who have their pets microchipped do not need a pet license for their dog or cat.

Pet licenses

A license is your pet’s “ticket home” should he or she become lost.

Fewer than 3 percent of animals brought in to Animal Care and Control have identification. When a lost animal is found with current identification, Animal Control officers can quickly notify its owners that it is safely at the shelter.

License fees also pay for many vital services performed at the Animal Care & Control Center.

All dogs and cats in the city that are not microchipped must have a current license, renewed every three or five years. A lifetime-of-pet license is also available. If you live outside the city limits of Fort Worth, contact your city or local animal control office to learn more about licensing fees and procedures for your pet.

How to get a pet license

Licenses are available at the Animal Care & Control Center.

To obtain a license by mail, send a copy of your pet’s current rabies vaccination certificate and a check for the license fee to:

Fort Worth Animal Care & Control 4900 Martin St. Fort Worth, TX 76119

If your pet has lost its license, you can purchase a replacement tag for $5 with a copy of your original license receipt. Renewals are counted from your old license’s expiration date.

Read more about the service for licensing, fees, microchip and adoption fees.

Fees & Licensing


Rabies is a preventable viral disease of mammals most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. The vast majority of rabies cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) each year occur in wild animals like raccoons, skunks, bats and foxes. Domestic animals account for less than 10 percent of the reported rabies cases, with cats, cattle and dogs most often reported rabid.

Rabies virus infects the central nervous system, causing encephalopathy and ultimately death. Early symptoms of rabies in humans are nonspecific, consisting of fever, headache, and general malaise. As the disease progresses, neurological symptoms appear and may include insomnia, anxiety, confusion, slight or partial paralysis, excitation, hallucinations, agitation, hypersalivation, difficulty swallowing and hydrophobia (fear of water). Death usually occurs within days of the onset of symptoms.

The number of rabies-related human deaths in the United States has declined from more than 100 annually at the turn of the century to one or two per year in the1990’s. Modern day prophylaxis has proven nearly 100 percent successful. In the United States, human fatalities associated with rabies occur in people who fail to seek medical assistance, usually because they were unaware of their exposure.

There is no treatment for rabies after symptoms of the disease appear.


  1. Be a responsible pet owner:
    • Keep vaccinations up-to-date for all dogs, cats and ferrets. This requirement is important not only to keep your pets from getting rabies, but also to provide a barrier of protection to you if your animal is bitten by a rabid wild animal.
    • Keep your pets under direct supervision so they do not come in contact with wild animals. If your pet is bitten by a wild animal, seek veterinary assistance for the animal immediately.
    • Call your local animal control agency to remove any stray animals from your neighborhood. They may be unvaccinated and could be infected by the disease.
    • Spay or neuter your pets to help reduce the number of unwanted pets that may not be properly cared for or regularly vaccinated.
  2. Avoid direct contact with unfamiliar animals:
    • Enjoy wild animals (raccoons, skunks, foxes) from afar. Do not handle, feed, or unintentionally attract wild animals with open garbage cans or litter.
    • Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home. Do not try to nurse sick animals to health. Call animal control or an animal rescue agency for assistance.
    • Teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly. “Love your own, leave other animals alone” is a good principle for children to learn.
    • Prevent bats from entering living quarters or occupied spaces in homes, churches, schools, and other similar areas, where they might come in contact with people and pets. Find out more about potential rabies exposure from bats.
    • When traveling abroad, avoid direct contact with wild animals and be especially careful around dogs in developing countries. Rabies is common in developing countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America where dogs are the major reservoir of rabies. Tens of thousands of people die of rabies each year in these countries. Before traveling abroad, consult with a health care provider, travel clinic, or your health department about the risk of exposure to rabies, pre-exposure prophylaxis, and how you should handle an exposure, should it arise.

Exposure to bats

In general, if you find an injured, sick, or dead bat, do not touch it. If you need assistance, contact Fort Worth Animal Care and Control.

Bat bites are not always visible, so situations in which a bat is physically present and there is a possibility of an unapparent exposure, the bat should be captured and submitted to a rabies laboratory for testing.

Immediately call your local animal control agency to have a trained officer sent to capture the bat. If you are unable to reach anyone for assistance, recommendations for bat capture are as follows:

  • remove any children or pets from the room;
  • wear leather gloves;
  • avoid direct contact between the bat and bare skin;
  • confine the bat to one room by closing the windows and doors;
  • turn on the lights if the room is dark;
  • wait for the bat to land;
  • cover the bat with a coffee can or similar container;
  • slide a piece of cardboard under the can that has the bat trapped; and tape the cardboard directly to the can.

If any possible contact between the bat and a person or domestic animal has occurred:

  • do not release the bat;
  • contact your local animal control agency or law enforcement agency to arrange for immediate submission of the bat for rabies testing.

If you are certain no contact between the bat and a person or domestic animal has occurred:

  • take the container outside immediately; and
  • release the bat, preferably at night and away from populated areas.

What to do after a possible exposure

If you are exposed to a potentially rabid animal, wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water, and seek medical attention immediately. A health care practitioner will care for the wound and will assess the risk for rabies exposure. The following information will help your health care practitioner assess your risk:

  • the geographic location of the incident
  • the type of animal that was involved
  • how the exposure occurred (provoked or unprovoked)
  • the vaccination status of animal
  • whether the animal can be safely captured and tested for rabies

After your health care practitioner is contacted, you must contact the Fort Worth Animal Care and Control Division to begin an investigation and check the biting animal for symptoms of rabies. Steps taken by the health care practitioner will depend on the circumstances of the bite.

Your health care practitioner should consult state or local health departments, veterinarians or animal control officers to make an informed assessment of the incident and to request assistance.

If you’ve been bitten by an animal seek medical attention immediately, then contact the Fort Worth Animal Care and Control Division to report the bite incident.

Wild Animals

Fort Worth has a wide range of urban wildlife living in the community due to numerous parks, waterways and greenbelts. In a move towards more humane practices, Fort Worth Animal Care & Control no longer picks up or provides traps used to capture wildlife.

This includes rabbits, opossums, squirrels, snakes, rats and other wild animals. Wildlife rescue groups are much better equipped at handling and housing wildlife than Animal Care & Control, whose focus is and always has been dogs and cats.

Be Proactive

Fort Worth Animal Care & Control recommends a proactive approach towards wildlife. Preventing wild animals from becoming accustomed to people is the first step in reducing human/wildlife interactions. Wildlife will continue to come to people’s homes as long as there is food, water or shelter for them.

  • The Humane Society of the United States provides a wealth of humane solutions for wild animal problems in homes, yards or gardens.

Small nuisance wildlife is no longer handled by the city, with the following exceptions:

  • High-risk rabies suspects (bats, foxes, raccoons, coyotes, skunks) with a reasonably possible human exposure.
  • Animals that have bitten or scratched a human.
  • Injured or sick wildlife.
  • Coyote and feral hog mitigation.
  • Raccoons, skunks and foxes are considered “High-Risk” animals for rabies in Texas. Because of this, animal control will pick them up if they are privately trapped, and will dispose of them appropriately. Residents are prohibited by law from relocating these animals.
  • It’s always best to leave wildlife alone. Don’t touch or bother them.

Options for residents:

  1. There are several private companies in Fort Worth that will trap/pickup wild animals for a fee. Residents can check out the Yellow Pages under “animal rescue and removal services” or “pest control.”
  2. For questions regarding wildlife rescue and rehabilitation, call 817-392-1234.

Loose Livestock

The Tarrant County Sheriff’s Department handles issues concern loose livestock (horses, goats, pigs, etc.) within Fort Worth city limits. Call 817-884-1212 to report loose livestock.