Animal Control Laws

four animal control officers in front of their truck


All female dogs and cats over the age of 6 months and male dogs and cats over the age of 8 months MUST be spayed or neutered or the owner must obtain an intact pet permit. Please visit our Spaying/Neutering page to obtain an intact pet permit and visit the Education/Outreach page for information on responsible pet ownership.



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 4 months of age after being vaccinated for rabies. The license must be renewed annually or triennially depending on the anima's microchip status and vaccination schedule.



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, fed or sheltered the animal for three or more consecutive days.


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 that allows the animal to remain dry and protected from the elements at all times and that provides 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.

Holding period

Impounded animals, including those released from quarantine, shall be kept for 96 hours. Disposition of the animals after 96 hours is at the City's discretion.



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 4 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.

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



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 Municipal Code, Chapter 6.

Dangerous dogs

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

  • 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 


  • Commits unprovoked acts in a place other than an enclosure in 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 conditions

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.



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 Animal Care & Control: 817-392-1234.



Regardless of the vaccination status of the animal at the time of the bite, the biting animal must be placed in quarantine for 10 days from the day of the bite.

Quarantine means placing the animal in a facility that provides:

  • Absolute security.

  • Isolation.

  • 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.