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Animal Ordinance FAQ

Louisville Dog Ordinance
Frequently Asked Questions


What is a multiple pet license?
It is a license for people who own four or more altered animals that are kept primarily for companionship. This may be purchased in lieu of individual licenses and could result in a savings. The license is $28 plus $6 per animal over four animals.

When, where and how do I license my cat, dog or ferret?
You can license your animals at Metro Animal Services or through many veterinarians.

(Please refer to the list provided on Metro Animal Services website). An application can also be downloaded from the Metro website:

What other types of animals need to be licensed or require a special permit?
Wildlife is not permitted unless otherwise indicated by state law. Rehabilitators are required to obtain a state permit as are any other parties keeping wildlife as allowed by state law. Unless you have a business that handles animals, you don’t need any other type of license.

Do I need to license my cat, dog or ferret every year?
Not necessarily, you now have the option of a three year license if your cat, dog or ferret is altered. You will need to have a three year rabies vaccination. The three year rabies vaccination will need to have been given the same year in which you wish to purchase the three year license in order to qualify for a three year license. The license expires in conjunction with the rabies vaccination.

Does my cat, dog or ferret need to wear its tags?
Yes. Cats & dogs should have their license and rabies tag attached to their collar at all times. A ferret’s tags may be attached to their cage. Microchipping is another form of identification that we strongly encourage and have to be combined with the tag.

Why are the license fees for unaltered animals higher?
Because we have a terrible pet overpopulation problem in our community. By offering a lower licensing fee for animals that are spayed or neutered we are trying to encourage people to have that done. The over population problem is generated by the animals that aren’t altered.

Do I still get a senior citizens discount?
Yes. As a matter a fact you can get the discount for up to two altered pets. However, the discount no longer applies to unaltered animals.

If I am visiting Louisville, what type of permit do I need for my animals?
If you are staying less than thirty days you don’t need anything except proof of a current rabies vaccination. We would recommend that you have all of your vaccination records and license (if applicable) available.

Can I sell or give away my litter of puppies or kittens?
Only if you have a current Class A Kennel License (Breeder’s License), Animal Dealer License or Pet Shop License. In the case of an individual animal that must be re-homed, the dog or cat must be licensed in order to sell or give it away. All forms of advertising must contain the current license number, and the name and address of the buyer or recipient of those animals must be reported to Metro Animal Services.

Unaltered Dogs

What are the requirements and restrictions on my dog if it is not spayed or neutered?
If your dog was not previously licensed you will need to get an Unaltered Dog License. The cost is $50.

We strongly recommend that you spay or neuter your dog if you do not show, breed or compete in other activities that would dissuade you from doing so.

Restraint Specific

Is there a leash law?

How does it apply to puppies, dogs, cats and kittens?
If you are in your own yard with your puppy or dog the animals should either be confined in a secure enclosure or accompanied by the owner and under his/her direct control. Cats and kittens may only roam freely on the property of their owner.

If you are off premise with an altered dog (where permission has not been granted) the dog must be restrained by a leash or lead and under the control of a person who is physically able to control the dog.

Unaltered dogs are required to be kept on a leash and under the control of their owner in the same fashion as an altered dog. MAS does not recommend extendible leashes for unaltered dogs.

Dangerous & Potentially Dangerous dogs are also required to be kept on leash that is no longer than four feet and muzzled.

Can I keep my dog in my yard on a chain?
No, not as a means of restraint. A dog may not be exclusively restrained to a fixed point chain between the hours of 8 am and 6 pm or for more than an hour at a time in any eight hour period.

Can I use an invisible fence to restrain my dog?
Yes, however, if your dog is found twice in a calendar year outside of the invisible enclosure, the owner will be issued a violation notice. If the dog is found a third time outside of the invisible enclosure, this type of confinement will no longer be acceptable for this dog.

If you pick-up my animal, what will it cost to get it back?
The cost varies. In order to receive an estimate of redemption fees, you must come to the shelter, at 3705 Manslick Road, to identify your animal. At that time, you will be given the cost of redemption for your animal. We recommend you bring your pet's most recent vaccination records from your veterinarian at the time of identification.

Any unaltered dog which is not licensed or permitted as required in the ordinance, and which is impounded for any reason after the effective date of this ordinance shall not be reclaimed by an owner unless the dog is spayed or neutered by or at the direction of MAS.

How much are the fines if my dog, cat or I am caught violating the ordinance and I receive a violation notice?
The fines increase per offense:

1st - $30

2nd - $60

3rd - $120

4th - $250

Number & Type of Animals Allowed

How many dogs can I own?
If your animals are kept inside your home there is no limit as long as you can properly care for them.

If you have dogs that reside outside in your yard and you live in a residential area on less than half an acre you cannot have more than three outdoor dogs. If you live on more than a half an acre but less than two acres, you are not allowed to have more than seven outdoor dogs.

Is there breed specific language in the ordinance?
No, none.

Is it legal to own a Pit Bull?

What other types of animals have restrictions?
All livestock weighing more that 40 pounds, except horses, stallions, colts, geldings, mares, fillies, ponies, miniature horses, mules, jacks, jennies, goats, kids and sheep must be kept in a fenced tract or lot that is at least a half an acre or more.

Horses, stallions, colts, geldings, mares, fillies, ponies, miniature horses, mules, jacks and jennies must be kept in a fenced tract or lot that is at one acre or more.

All crowing and non-crowing poultry must be kept on tracts or lots of at least half an acre or more. You can have one crowing and five non-crowing birds on less than half an acre.


Is there a pooper scooper law?
Yes, it is the responsibility of all pet owners to carry something at all times in order to clean-up after their pet and to dispose of it in a sanitary manner.

What can be done about barking dogs?
There are three options: If the complainant(s) wants an investigation and agrees to give a statement(s) and their name(s) we will send an officer to conduct a full investigation in to the barking complaint. If the complainant doesn’t want to “get involved’ then we will respond based on history and license. If there haven’t been any prior complaints and the dog is licensed, then we will send a letter letting the owner know there has been a complaint along with educational information regarding solutions for the barking problem. If there is a history of complaints and the animal is not licensed, we will send an officer to the address to check for shots and license and to educate the owner.

You can make a service request to address the issue of a barking dog or dogs. We will send an officer out to talk to the owner and educate about the ordinance. If this doesn’t work we can investigate the situation further and proceed based on the evidence. Our officers are now able to take a sworn written statement from the complainant who has witnessed a violation and the circumstances of the violation and it will be filed with District Court.

How long does Metro Animal Services hold strays?
We hold all strays for a minimum of five days. The first includes the day the animals arrived the shelter. We recommend that people visit the shelter every two or three days to look for your dog or cat. We cannot identify animals over the phone because descriptions vary and the margin for error is far too great. If an animal is wearing a license and/or rabies tag, every effort will be made to contact the person associated with these tags. These animals are typically held longer as well. Also animals wearing their tags receive half-off of redemption fees.

Does Metro Animal Services adopt animals?
We sure do. We have the largest selection of potentially adoptable animals in one location. Once an animal is placed up for adoption it stays there until it finds a home or placement group to care for it, unless extreme circumstances compromise the adoptability of the animal.

Breeding & Selling Specific

What type of kennel license do I need to breed and sell animals? 

Effective July 1, 2012 Metro Animal Services is offering Class A, B and C kennel licenses to citizens whose “establishment” is a full time commercial establishment. Citizens who use their personal residence as their primary place of business will be required to purchase individual licenses for their animals.

You can license your pet at your vet, at any Metro Animal Services facility, or online at The costs for unaltered licenses are $50 per animal and $9 for altered animals. All dogs, cats and/or ferrets over the age of 4 months must be licensed in accordance with the Louisville Metro animal control ordinance.

How does the Land Development Code (LDC) affect having a kennel?
Some kennel operations may fall under the LDC and require special permits in addition to meeting the requirements of a Metro Animal Services for a kennel permit.

If I am visiting Louisville for a show, competition, or scheduled breeding what type of permit do I need?
If you are visiting for less than thirty days all you need is a current rabies vaccination.

If I am in Louisville for a competition with my dog and it gets away from me and ends up at the shelter will it need to be spayed or neutered before I can get it back?
No. We understand that accidents happen. It helps if you report your missing animal to us and if it is wearing identification or is microchipped. We understand that accidents happen and will not require that your dog is altered. Spaying or Neutering upon redemption, only applies to residents of Jefferson County whose cats, dogs or ferrets are not current on their license.

Dangerous Dogs

What do I do if I’m attacked or bitten by a dog or cat?
Contact 911 or call a physician and Metro Animal Services.

What can happen to me if my dog threatens, attacks or bites someone?
Depending on the details of the attack, your dog could be declared Potentially Dangerous or Dangerous.

A Potentially Dangerous Dog is defined as one that bites, scratches or bruises any person, pet of livestock in an unprovoked manner.

Dangerous Dog is defined as one that commits an unprovoked severe attack on any person, pet or livestock or inflicts death or serious injury in an aggressive manner. It also includes any unrestrained dog that maims or kills a domestic pet or livestock and includes dogs used in the commission of a crime.

What is considered cruelty, animal abuse or inhumane treatment?Cruelty and abuse are a result of the failure to provide adequate food and water; failing to detect the need or withholding veterinary care; creating or allowing unhealthful living conditions; infliction of suffering, injury or death to an animal by striking, beating, dropping, kicking, dragging, choking or by the use of an object or weapon; causing pain, injury or death by the means of caustic, flammable, boiling or heated substances; causing suffering, injury or death by suffocation or drowning; failure to provide health related grooming.

Inhumane Treatment – Relates to the provision of necessities. Inhumane treatment includes failure to provide wholesome food and water, proper shelter and humane care and treatment. The living area should be clean, free of debris and accumulated waste (namely fecal matter). The animal should be able to walk or lie down without coming into contact with debris or waste. All shelters should be clean and regularly maintained. The shelter should be dry and insulated to protect the animal from extreme temperatures. The floor should be dry and insulated. Bedding that is dry and insulated should be provided during inclement weather. In addition to shelter all animals should have access to shade, such as a tree, awning or other structure.

What do I do if I want to report cruelty, animal abuse or inhumane treatment?
You should call Metro Animal Services (363-6609) with the following information: a specific address of the situation and an accurate description of the conditions. All calls are anonymous.

Animal Welfare/Rescue Group Specific

What type of license or permit do I need if I foster animals for an animal welfare/ rescue group or organization?
You will need to be registered or on record as a foster for an animal welfare/rescue group or organization and included on their permit. Otherwise the law applies as it would for any other pet owner. All animals must be licensed by the group.

Hunting Specific

How many hunting dogs can I have?
It depends if they are inside or outside, where you live and your lot size. (See question #4 under Restraint Specific.)

What type of license do I need to get for my hunting dogs?
It depends on how many dogs you have. You can license them individually or get a Class A or B Kennel License if you live in a non-residential area. If you currently have an active Kennel License you will be grandfathered in despite your lot size in a residential neighborhood.

Am I violating the restraint law when my dog is hunting?
No, as long as you are hunting or training in an authorized area. When a dog is not hunting it is treated as any other dog.