Animal Control

The Bureau of Animal Care & Control serves the residents of the City of Pittsburgh by providing care, control and resolution to situations dealing with domestic animals and wildlife.

Description of Services:

The Bureau of Animal Care & Control provides assistance to Bureaus within the Department of Public Safety, other City Departments and the Allegheny County Health Department in situations involving animals, both domestic and wild. The Bureau enforces City and State codes dealing with animals; issues citations and appears in court; helps to keep our City’s parks animal-nuisance free; works with non-profit animal shelters; provides consultation to other municipalities concerning animal issues; and assists the Pennsylvania Game Commission in tracking the rabies virus.

Animal Control Agents capture stray animals, assist in pet/owner recovery, resolve neighbor disputes over animals, assist the elderly and physically-challenged with animal concerns, advise and teach residents of their responsibility as pet owners, advise non-pet owners of their rights, and assist in the removal of nuisance wildlife. (Nuisance wildlife is defined as wildlife that causes, or is about to cause, property damage or that presents a threat to the health or safety of the community by means of disease transmission or direct attacks.) The Bureau also quarantines animals, provides removal of deceased animals and assists police and the District Attorney's office with humane investigations.

Although Animal Care & Control encourages responsible pet/companion ownership there are still over 1,300 dogs and cats picked up yearly. Many are reunited with their homes through a partnership the City has with a local animal shelter.

Due to the wooded mountainous geography of our City, residents share common areas with a host of wildlife (skunks, raccoons, ground hogs, foxes, coyotes, deer, turkeys etc.) Learn more about how to share space with wildlife on our Living with Wildlife FAQ.

The City offers 24 hour service. The Animal Care & Control office hours are Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Please visit our Contact Us page.

Operations continue from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday. Saturdays, Sundays and holidays operations are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. All "after hour" operations are for any emergency that a resident may have.

Responsible pet owners need to know that along with the obligation to properly feed, shelter, and care for a pet, there are laws (ordinances) to protect the animal, the pet owner, and the community.

"Owner" includes every person who keeps or shelters and every person who allows an animal to be on their property (land or house) which is occupied by him or her. This means that if you are in possession of an animal, whether you own it or not - you're responsible for its care, behavior, and welfare.

For Pet Owners

Ownership Guide

  • You cannot own, harbor, or maintain a non-domestic canine such as a pure wolf or wolf-mix in the City of Pittsburgh.
  • Your are not allowed to own, harbor, or maintain a non-domestic cat or non-domestic cat-mix in the City of Pittsburgh.
  • You may own a maximum of 5 pets. You can't have more than 5 dogs or cats or any combination within the City limits. Example: You may have 5 dogs or 5 cats. Or you may have 4 dogs and 1 cat. Or 3 cats and 2 dogs. The total number of animals cannot be more than 5.
  • People or residences who do foster care and placement work with animals must get an exemption permit from the Animal Control Department in order to have more than five animals on their property.
  • The 5 pet limit does not include a litter of puppies or kittens between the ages of 7 and 12 weeks of age.
  • All litters of puppies and kittens must be registered with the City Animal Control Department within 10 days of birth. There is no fee to do this.

Dog Regulations

  • Your dog must have a City license when it reaches 3 months of age. Dog licenses may be obtained on the License pageor from the City Treasurer's office. Licensing fees are much cheaper for "fixed" dogs (male or female).
  • You must have proof of your dog's current rabies vaccination. Rabies vaccinations are required by PA state law at 3 months of age.
  • Dogs are not permitted to run unleashed on public streets, sidewalks, other public places or other people's property.
  • If you are walking your dog, it must be on a leash or chain not more than 6 feet in length.
  • Any female dog "in heat" (the times during the year when the female is able to breed and have a litter) must be kept inside.
  • Refer to "Nuisance Violations" section regarding barking, defecation and digging.

Cat Regulations

  • Cats do not have to be licensed.
  • If you allow your cat to be outside, the cat must have an ID collar or tag that has your name, phone number and address.
  • You must have proof of your cat's current rabies vaccination. Rabies vaccinations are required by PA state law at 3 months of age.
  • Any female cat "in heat" (the times during the year when the female is able to breed and have a litter) must be kept inside.

Nuisance Violations

  • Frequent and habitual barking, howling, screeching, yelping, or baying by a dog, cat or other animals.
  • Allowing an animal to create offensive odors, excessive noise or unsanitary conditions which are considered dangerous to health, comfort or safety of the public.
  • Allowing a dog to "go to the bathroom" on school grounds, a City park or other public or private property (It is not considered to be a nuisance violation if you immediately clean up after your dog - called "Poop-Scoop" laws in most communities).
  • Allowing your pet to scratch, dig or defecate on any lawn, tree, shrub, plant, building or any other public or private property other than that of the owner or person in charge or control of the animal.

Dog Licenses

Dog licenses and registration tags help to assist in finding lost pets.  Annual dog licenses are valid from January 1st through December 31st of each year.

For Additional Information: 412-255-2575

*Non-City Residents should call Allegheny County at 412-350-4111 for information.

Getting a Dog License

  1. Click here for the Dog License Application
  2. Print, complete, and sign the above application and mail along with check or money order
  3. If you are applying for a spayed or neutered dog, you must submit written verification from licensed doctor of veterinary medicine or a written affidavit
  4. Make your check or money order payable to:

Treasurer, City of Pittsburgh
Pet License Department
414 Grant Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15219-2476

Dog License Fees


The person who finds your dog simply call 412-255-2575 with your registration number (on your dog's tag).

  • 1 year: $20.00
  • 3 year: $50.00
  • 12 year: $175.00

Spayed/neutered (please send proof):

  • 1 year: $10.00
  • 3 year: $25.00
  • 12 year: $75.00

Lost tag? Please contact the Pet License Department at 412-255-2967.

Spay/Neuter Program

The City of Pittsburgh has a program to help owners and/or caregivers to access free or reduced cost spay/neutering for their animals. Research shows that a single spay surgery can save 55 unwanted animals from being born. Those are 55 animals that won't wait in shelters...or worse. Additionally, this saves the community money and resources.

Stray Animals

If there is a stray animal in your neighborhood, please contact Animal Control:  

City of Pittsburgh Stray Animal Policies:

  • Any dogs running loose will be picked up and impounded by Police and Animal Control officers
  • Licensed dogs and ID tagged cats: The owner will be contacted, and the animal will be held for 10 days at the Animal Rescue League Shelter located at Hamilton Ave and Washington Blvd in East Liberty. The owner of the pet may claim his animal after paying for costs and charges paid by the City for picking up and taking care of the animal. Animals may be adopted or euthanized after 10 days following the notification of the owner
  • Unlicensed dogs and cats with no collar ID: Animals may be placed out for adoption or euthanized after 3 days following impoundment
  • The City does not provide animals to anyone for medical research

Living with Wildlife

Nuisance Wildlife

Sometimes an animal has already entered your home or is causing damage to your property. Nuisance wildlife is defined as wildlife that causes, or is about to cause, property damage or that presents a threat to the health or safety of the community by means of disease transmission or direct attacks. 

Trapping Nuisance Animals:

  • You can contact Animal Control (412-255-2036) to acquire a humane trap for up to two weeks
    • The trap requires a refundable deposit
  • You may use your own trap, if you have one
  • You must commit to checking the trap several times per day
  • Once you have trapped an animal simply call Animal Control (412-255-2036
  • During peak season there may be a wait time of up to 2 weeks to receive a trap
  • Understand that, due to state regulations, all groundhogs, skunks and raccoons that are trapped will be humanely euthanized

If there is an animal in your home, please call the office directly for immediate assistance.


Office: (Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.) 412-255-2036

Emergencies: (11 p.m. to 7 a.m. Monday through Friday & After 5 p.m. to 9 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays) 412-255-2935

Daily Operations: Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. & 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. Weekends and holidays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m


There is a loose dog in my neighborhood, what do I do?

Dogs are not allowed to run loose in the City of Pittsburgh. We like to help ensure the safety of people in the community as well as trying to reunite the dog with its owner. To report the loose dog, please call the Animal Care and Control office at 412-255-2036 Monday through Friday between the hours of 7am and 3pm. Outside of these hours, please call 412-255-2935. If you feel you are in imminent danger from the dog, it is appropriate to call 911 at any time.

There is a loose cat in my neighborhood, what do I do?

There is no law against cats roaming free in the City of Pittsburgh, but they are required to have a collar with identification. If you have found a friendly cat without identification, animal control officers will pick it up if it is contained in some way (carrier, cage, humane trap). Animal Care and Control is not able to respond to calls regarding loose cats that are not contained. We are able to provide a humane trap for residents needing to capture a cat on their property. Please contact the office at 412-255-2036, Monday through Friday from 7am to 3pm to discuss trapping.

I lost my pet! What should I do?

Losing a pet can be a very stressful experience. Following these steps can help reunite you with your lost pet more quickly:

  • Be proactive! Nobody expects a pet to go missing, so your pet should always wear a collar with an ID tag that has your phone number on it. Check the tag regularly to ensure it is still readable.
  • Have your pet spayed or neutered. In addition to all the health benefits, it decreases an animal's desire to roam away from home. Pittsburgh residents are eligible for the City’s free spay/neuter program for up to 5 pets! Check out the Spay/Neuter Program tab for an application and details.
  • Get your pet microchipped this permanent form of ID can't be detached or obscured. Local shelters offer microchips at reduced rates. Make sure to keep your information updated with the microchip company if you move or get a new phone number
  • Take photos of your pet (as if we had to ask you to do that!). Be sure to keep a few current ones on hand for emergency purposes
  • If your pet has gotten away from you, call the local shelters. The open door shelter in Pittsburgh is Humane Animal Rescue at 412-345-7300.  You need to file a lost report with them in case someone finds your pet. However, because descriptions may vary (you might call your dog tan while a shelter worker calls him yellow), it is best to visit the shelters in person. Making a flyer complete with color photos of your pet will help! You can bring a copy of the flyer to local shelters, post flyers around your neighborhood, and post the information to social media sites.
  • Any animal picked up by Pittsburgh Animal Care and Control is taken to the Animal Rescue League, so if you've filed your lost report with them, you are covered if your pet is picked up by our officers

The cats I see in my neighborhood have a funny looking ear, are they strays?

We're glad you asked! Cats with an ear that is "tipped" or notched (see photo) aren't really strays. They are feral cats. This means the cats are not tame, but they are cared for by someone in your neighborhood. A cat with a tipped ear has been spayed or neutered and vaccinated against rabies. These cats help to keep rodent populations in check. They are no danger to residents, but should not be approached, as they are essentially wild. For more information on feral cats, please check out www.alleycat.org or call the Animal Care and Control office at 412-255-2036 Monday through Friday, 7am to 3pm.

I don't like the way my neighbor cares for his/her pet. Can you help?

We're glad you're concerned about the anima's well-being, because we are, too! You can call the Animal Care and Control office at 412-255-2036 to discuss your concerns. You may remain anonymous if you wish. Concerns about animal neglect or cruelty may also be reported to the Humane Officers at Western Pennsylvania Humane Society at 412-321-4625 or Animal Friends at 412- 847-7000.

My neighbor's dog barks all the time. Can you help?

It's possible that your neighbor doesn't know his/her dog barks all the time. If you know your neighbor, you can try talking with him/her about the problem. If you aren't comfortable talking with your neighbor, feel free to call the office at 412-255-2036 Monday through Friday, 7am to 3pm, and we can help to resolve the problem. Please have the address of the property where the dog lives available when you call.

I still have more questions.

No problem, just give us a call at 412-255-2036, Monday through Friday from 7am to 3pm, for any other questions or concerns. Please note,this is for general questions or concerns only. Any requests for services or concerns about an animal's welfare should be submitted directly to the office via phone.

Animal Control Events Calendar

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