Pet Licensing and Ownership

dog sitting on couch

There are many benefits to owning pets. It’s important to be a responsible pet owner.

Vaccinate Your Pet for Rabies

This prevents them from getting rabies from a wild animal bite. If your pet bites another animal or person, it helps to stop them from spreading the disease.


  • Wisconsin law says all dogs must be vaccinated for rabies by the age of five months.
  • Rabies vaccines are good for 1 year or 3 years, depending on age at vaccination and vaccination history.
  • Check with your vet to be sure your dog stays up to date on rabies vaccination.


Many areas in Dane County require cats to be licensed. A rabies vaccination is required for licensing. Check with your municipality to see if they require a license for cats.

Even if your cat never goes outside, it could escape, or a wild animal could get into your home. The best way to protect your cat from rabies is to get it vaccinated.

Get a Pet License

Why license your pet?

A pet wearing a license tag is easier to identify if they get lost. Your license fee goes toward helping lost, unwanted, injured, abandoned, and mistreated animals.

Your pet license fees support the following programs:

  • Investigations into animal cruelty
  • 24-hour animal rescue
  • Recovering and returning lost animals to their homes
  • Providing food, shelter, veterinary and care for stray or homeless animals
  • Help sick, injured, or trapped wild animals
  • Education for animal owners


  • You must license your dog by the age of five months, per Wisconsin state law.
  • You must buy a new license for your dog each year.
  • A license costs about $10-20 and is cheaper if you dog is spayed or neutered.
    • City of Madison: Dog Licensing
    • Dane County: County licenses are sold by individual town, city, and village clerks. See the map below for links to information on pet licensing from your municipality.

Once you have your dog license, you can get a dog park permit:


These municipalities require you to license your cat:

  • City of Edgerton
  • City of Fitchburg
  • City of Madison
  • City of Monona
  • Village of Belleville
  • Village of Black Earth
  • Village of Cambridge
  • Village of Cross Plains
  • Village of Deerfield
  • Village of Maple Bluff
  • Village of McFarland
  • Village of Mt Horeb
  • Village of Oregon
  • Village of Shorewood Hills
  • Village of Waunakee

If you live in one of these  places, you must buy a new license for your cat each year. A license costs about $10-20 and is cheaper if your cat is spayed or neutered. See the map above for links to more information by municipality.

Put Identification, License, and Rabies Tags on Your Pet

Your pet should wear an ID tag with your name, address, and phone number at all times. Don’t rely on microchips. If someone finds your pet, they won’t know if it has a microchip. The fastest way to get your lost pet back is to have an ID tag with your current address and phone number. You can get an ID tag from your local vet, at pet stores, or the Humane Society.

Your pet should also wear their license tag and rabies tag. Municipalities issue license tags. Your veterinarian will give you a rabies tag when your pet is vaccinated.

Be a Responsible Pet Owner

  • Leashing. Cats and dogs must be on a leash if they are not on your property.
  • Park Permits. If you take your dog to a dog park, they must have a dog park permit. Follow the dog park’s rules, which are posted at the park entrance.
  • Pets in Cars. Do not leave your pet alone in a car.
  • Clean Up.
    • Always carry equipment to clean up your dog's poop whenever you and your dog are off your property.
    •  Don't let your dog poop on any property, public or private, unless you immediately clean it up. Don't let your dog pee or poop in people’s gardens. Try to avoid your dog peeing and pooping on private property if possible.
    •  Don’t let dog poop accumulate on your property.
    • Dog poop can pose health risks to people and pets and is a source of food for wild animals and pests, specifically rats!
    • There are large fines for violating these ordinances.
  • Barking. Keep your dog from barking as much as possible.
  •  Pet Care. The ASPCA  has information about taking care of your pet.
  • Animal Adoptions and Surrenders. The Dane County Humane Society can help you adopt or surrender a pet. 

Report Bite Incidents

Even if you own the animal or you know the owner, it is important to report animal bites to us.  We’ll help you figure out the risk for rabies or other illnesses from the bite.

Report the bite to us at (608) 255-2345 (ask for Animal Services).

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