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It’s never too late to get pets licensed. The 2019 pet license year runs from January 1st to December 31st. It is a yearly requirement to license all dogs kept in Madison and Dane County that are 5 months or older. It is also a requirement in Madison and in most cities and villages in Dane County to license cats.

“Licensing dogs and cats is basic public health prevention,” says John Hausbeck, Animal Services Supervisor for Public Health Madison & Dane County (PHMDC). “It ensures that people are vaccinating their pets for rabies regularly. Because of regular rabies vaccination for our pets, we don’t tend to worry about rabid dogs and cats running at large in our community,” continues Hausbeck.

While it is important to license pets each year, it is equally important for licensed dogs and cats to wear their pet license tag at all times, as it makes the work of Public Health Animal Services Officers, and others charged with animal control, easier. “When we arrive on the scene of a call, that license tag around the dog or cat’s neck helps us know right away if the animal is currently vaccinated against rabies. This is really important for us to know if the animal has been in any kind of altercation where it has bitten another animal or a person,” says Patrick Comfert, Animal Services Officer for PHMDC. “The other thing a pet license helps us with is ownership disputes. If two people are claiming to be an animal’s owner, it helps us prove who the real owner is by checking the animal’s pet license,” continues Comfert.

In the City of Madison, the license fee for a spayed or neutered cat or dog is $15, and for unspayed or unneutered pets the fee is $20. Fees in the rest of the County vary by municipality. Contact the community municipal clerk for information. Pet owners who do not license their dog or cat annually may face a fine of $124 in the City of Madison. Fines in the unincorporated parts of the county are $169 and may be different within other villages and cities.

Dog owners who license their pet are able to purchase a dog park permit to enjoy the 17 off-leash dog parks in Madison and Dane County. A portion of both dog and cat license fees goes to help support the work of PHMDC Animal Services Officers, who ensure a safe and healthy environment between animals and people in Madison and Dane County.

To get a dog or cat license, visit the PHMDC website:


Health & Safety