Dog Laws & Regulations
Why License Your Dog?
There is one exceptionally good reason for licensing your dog; if your animal is missing, the dog warden can quickly notify you that your pet has been found, enabling you to quickly claim him.
Section 955.12 of the Ohio Revised Code allows the county to hold a licensed dog for up to 14 days, after mailing a notice of its capture to the owner, before allowing it to be either sold or destroyed. (If a dog is unlicensed, the Law allows it to be either destroyed or sold after being held for only three days.)
Dog tags may be issued by:
- Authorized dog wardens and their deputies
- Authorized Humane Societies
- The County Auditor
- Other authorized agents
- Easy Licensing
- Service Dogs
- Keep Dog at Home
- Safe Pet
- Lost Dog Tag
- Claim Your Dog
- Warden's Duties
- "Kennel Owner"
- New Home
Licensing Your Dog Is Easy & Inexpensive
If you own a dog that is over three months of age, stop by your County Auditor's Office, an authorized agent or online at Williams County Online Dog Licensing page between December 1st and the following January 31st. Simply fill out the brief registration form and pay the annual fee per dog or kennel (available from Dog Warden only). H.B. 59 (effective December 1, 2013) allows individuals to register a dog for a period of one year ($18), three years ($54), or register the dog permanently ($180) rather than requiring annual registration as in current law. Three year and permanent tags are available in the Auditor's office or from the Dog Warden.
Each dog receives a distinctive tag number (dog kennels receive five consecutively numbered tags). Once your dog has been assigned a license, the license number and the information about him is permanently filed in the county's records.
If you obtain a dog after January 31, the Law requires its registration (Ohio Revised Code Section 955.01) within 30 days of your becoming the owner. There is a late registration fee if the registration is not obtained within 30 days of obtaining the dog. If you obtain a dog becoming 3 months of age or purchase a dog out of state after the 1st day of July, you have 90 days to register the dog. The fee is half-price. If purchasing a 3 year tag the period for the first year will be 83% of the original fee.
Service Dogs Are Permanently Registered
Service dogs (guide, leader and support animals) must also be licensed, but their fee is waived. Once they are registered with the county, they are permanently licensed by receiving a special tag.
Ensure That Your Dog Stays Home
Ohio Law requires all dog owners keeping their animals "either physically confined or restrained upon the premises of the owner…by a leash, tether, adequate fence, supervision, or secure enclosure to prevent escape, or under reasonable control of some person, except when the dog is lawfully engaged in hunting accompanied by the owner…or a handler." (Ohio Revised Code 955.22).
A License Helps Keep Your Pet Safe
Unless a dog is confined in a registered kennel, he must wear his license (tag) at all times. IF he is not wearing his tag, he is subject to impounding, sale, or destruction (Ohio Revised Code 955.10).
If your dog is impounded because he was not wearing his license and is not redeemed within three days, the dog warden may either have him humanely destroyed or sell him to any nonprofit Ohio institution or organization that is certified to engage in either teaching or researching the prevention of diseases of human beings or animals. The animal may also be donated to any nonprofit special agency engaged in training service dogs (Ohio Revised Code 955.16).
If Your Dog's Tag Is Lost
Simply provide your County Auditor with proof of its loss and a duplicate tag will be issued for $5.
To Claim Your Dog If He's Been Impounded
You need to go to your local pound (or, in some counties, the Humane Society is authorized to act as the county's dog warden) and pay the costs the county incurred for impounding and housing your dog. If your dog was not licensed when picked up, you must also purchase a registration tag before taking him home.
Your Dog Warden's Duties
Chapter 955 of the Ohio Revised Code lists the county dog warden's duties. They include:
- Issuing dog licenses when deputized by the County Auditor
- Keeping a record of the tags sold and dogs "owned, kept and harbored' in the county.
- Seizing dogs that are inhumanely treated.
- Patrolling the county to impound unregistered (unlicensed) dogs.
- Notifying the owner if their dog is impounded.
- Recommending enclosed pens and the purchase of liability insurance to owners of dogs bred as protection animals.
- Quarantine of a dog if it has bitten a human.
- Disposing of unclaimed dogs through either sale, donation to authorized programs, or humane death.
Dog wardens and deputies have "the same police powers as are conferred upon sheriffs and police offices in the performance of their duties…" (Ohio Revised Code 955.12)
Section 955.24 also states "No person shall obstruct or interfere with anyone lawfully engaged in capturing an unregistered dog or making an examination of a dog wearing a tag."
Definition of "Kennel Owner"
According to the Ohio Revised Code, section 955.02, a kennel owner is a "person, partnership, firm, company, or corporation professionally engaged in the business of breeding dogs for hunting or sale." When a person breeds dogs avowedly as a hobby, "but permits sales to become such a factor that he advertises for sale" the breeding activity and dogs, that person "is professionally engaged in the business of dog breeding" and should be registered as a kennel.
The term "kennel" means any pack or collection of dogs, over the age of three months, kept together for the purpose of hunting or for sale. (Ohio Revised Code 955.04)
If Your Dog Moves To A New Home
The new owner is required to record the ownership change with the County Auditor. They must present a transfer of ownership certificate, signed by the former owner, and pay the $5 fee.
Ensure That Your Dog Stays Healthy
By the time your dog is 3 to 4 months old, it should be immunized against rabies and other communicable diseases. Depending on which vaccine your veterinarian uses, your dog will need booster shots every one or three years.