Archived News: This news release is more than one year old and may include outdated information.

Public Health Urges Owners to License Their Pets

Public Health Madison & Dane County is reminding residents to purchase their annual pet licenses. The 2020 pet license year runs from January 1st to December 31st. In Madison and in Dane County, it is the law that all dogs five months and older be licensed. In Madison and many cities and villages in Dane County, cats must also be licensed.

“Pet licensing helps all animals,” says John Hausbeck, Animal Services Supervisor for Public Health Madison & Dane County. “When you pay your licensing fee, part of that money helps us pay for the care of stray, abandoned, and impounded animals.”

Licensing also helps return lost pets to their owners. “Dogs and cats do sometimes get loose and wander off. Their license tag improves the chance of them getting back home to you,” said Hausbeck. Additionally, if two people are claiming to be an animal’s owner, public health staff can check the animal’s pet license to identify the real owner.

“When people get their pet license tag, we want to be sure that their pet wears it at all times. This makes the work of Animal Services Officers easier,” says Hausbeck. “And it’s the best way for a pet owner to avoid a citation for failure to license.”

In the City of Madison, the license fee for a spayed or neutered cat or dog is $20, and for unspayed or unneutered pets the fee is $25. Fees in the rest of the County vary by municipality. This map has links to licensing and contact information by municipality. 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.

To get a dog or cat license in Madison, visit the Public Health website. For areas outside Madison, contact the municipal clerk. 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


Health & Safety