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Dog Owner Responsibilities

Public Health Madison & Dane County, Animal Services Section, reminds all Dog Owners of the following

  • Keep your dog's rabies vaccination and dog license current.
  • Dogs must wear current rabies, license and Owner I.D. tags.
  • Keep your dog leashed when off your property unless you are within the off-leash exercise areas in parks where dogs are allowed.
  • Obtain and display a Park Permit anytime your dog is in a park in which dogs are allowed.
  • Do not allow your dog to trespass on public or private property or run-at-large, unleashed, or unattended.
  • Do not confine your dog in a vehicle in extreme (hot or cold) weather.
  • Provide your dog with adequate shelter if kept outside for extended periods.
  • Dogs are not allowed on school grounds, beaches, or public cemeteries.
  • Do not allow your dog in any park where dogs are prohibited.
  • Prevent your dog from injuring any person, property or other animal.
  • Never allow your dog to bark at, intimidate, attack, or threaten another pet or any person.
  • Report to the PHMDC, Animal Services at (608) 267-1989, any bite incident in which your dog is involved, whether your dog bites a person, is bitten by, or fights with a wild animal or stray pet.

Failure to follow these rules may result in citations and fines.

Animal Laws for Dogs in Madison & Dane County

In many cases animal laws may differ slightly depending on whether you live in the City of Madison or in Dane County. However there are several animal laws that are the same no matter where you live.

Rabies Vaccination

Wisconsin State Law requires that all Dogs be vaccinated for Rabies by the age of 5 months. Rabies Vaccinations are good for 6 months, 1 year or 3 years depending on the type of vaccine used and the age of the animal when the vaccination was given. Owners should check with their vet and make sure their pets are up to date on rabies vaccinations at all times.

Dog License

All Dogs kept in Madison and Dane County are required to be licensed by the age of 5 months. Licenses are sold on an annual basis.

You must purchase a new license for your dog at the beginning of each calendar year. Please see Dog & Cat Licensing for more details.

ID Tag

An ID tag with owner Name, Address and Phone Number is also required by both City and County and can go a long way towards getting someone's pet back home if it gets lost. Owners may obtain an ID tag from their local vet or the Humane Society and should keep it on their pet at all times.

Running At Large

Both the City of Madison and Dane County have running at large laws for dogs. Dogs are not to run at large off the owners property unless they are in an off leash dog park or have permission to be loose from the owner of the property they are on.

In addition, for Madison Dog Owners, the following Madison General Ordinances (M.G.O.) pertain to your responsibilities for cleaning up after your dog.

  • ALWAYS carry equipment sufficient to clean up your dog's feces whenever you and your dog are off your property. M.G.O. 7.322(2).
  • Do not allow your dog to defecate on any property, public or private (except your own property), unless you immediately remove, and properly dispose of the waste. M.G.O. 7.322(1).
  • Do not allow dog feces to accumulate on your property. M.G.O. 7.37(8).
  • Dog feces can pose health risks to people and pets. The fine for violating any of these ordinances is $100.00.

Dog Park Permits are required for posted City of Madison and Dane County Parks. For further information, go to Dog Park Permits.

Keep Your Dog Happy and Safe

  • Carefully follow vaccination and worming schedules.
  • Affix a current owner identification tag to your dog's collar.
  • Provide shelter from sun, wind and precipitation whenever your dog is kept outside.
  • Be sure your dog's kennel, collar and leash are in sound condition.
  • Do not encourage your dog to be aggressive towards other pets or people.
  • Take your dog to a good obedience class.
  • Spay or neuter your dog.

Keep Your Neighbor Happy Too

  • Do not allow your dog to bark and disturb the peace.
  • Keep your property free of dog waste accumulation.
  • Pick up after your dog while out on walks.
  • Do not allow your dog to roam.
  • Curb your dog, do not allow it to urinate on flowers or shrubs in other yards

Key Contacts
  • Animal Services Office:
    (608) 267-1989
  • Animal Services Officer Dispatch:
    (608) 255-2345
  • Dane County Humane Society:
    (608) 838-0413
  • Dane County Humane Society's Wildlife Center:
    (608) 838-0413 (ext 151)
  • For animal bites, call Animal Services Officer Dispatch:
    (608) 255-2345 or for non-emergency:
    (608) 267-1989
  • For animal-related ordinances, call Animal Services at:
    (608) 267-1989
  • For behavioral problems with your dog, consult with your veterinarian or contact the Dane County Humane Society:
    (608) 838-0413
  • Enforcement of the Dog Exercise Areas, contact Animal Services:
    (608) 267-1989
  • Lost Dog? Contact the Dane County Humane Society:
    (608) 838-0413