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Madera County Animal Laws

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The following is basic information to help all Madera County residents become aware of their legal responsibilities as pet owners:

Licensing Requirements

All Madera County dog owners must purchase a license for each dog over 4 months of age. A current rabies certificate, valid for the entire license period, is needed before you can get a license. If you are a new resident to Madera County or you obtain a new dog, you have 30 days to purchase a license, after which a $20.00 late fee is charged in addition to the license fee itself.

Licenses can be purchased year round for one,  two, or three years. The rabies vaccination must be valid for the entire licensing period. In order to license your dog, you will need to present us with a current rabies vaccination certificate from a licensed veterinarian.

The certificate must show the date of vaccination, its expiration date, the type of vaccine used, the lot number and the veterinarian's name, license number, and signature.

Mail or bring the completed application, a current rabies certificate, spay or neuter certificate and the amount indicated on the fee schedule (please do not mail cash) to:

Madera County Animal Services
14269 Road 28
Madera, CA 93638

License Fees (1 Year License)

Unaltered $50.00
Altered (with proof) $10.00
Senior Citizen (65 and over) Altered $5.00
Replacement Tag $5.00
Late Penalty  $20.00

All licenses must be renewed within sixty (60) days of their expiration date or a $20.00 late fee is charged in addition to the license itself.

Please make sure your dog wears his license tag at all times. This number is on record at the Animal Services Department and is your dog's ticket home should he/she become lost.

Rabies Vaccinations

  • As there are always several confirmed positive rabies cases every year in Madera County, all dogs over three months of age per California state law  are required to have a current rabies vaccination.
  • Dogs under one year old must have a primary rabies vaccination followed in one year by a second rabies vaccination which is good for three years.
  • While it is not currently required for cats to have a rabies vaccination, it is highly recommended.
  • Cats are at great risk due to their roaming habits.
  • Please contact your veterinarian for recommended vaccination schedules.

Dog Control & Leash Law Enforcement

  • All dogs in Madera County are expected to be under control at all times.
  • They must be confined to your property. If you take them off your property, to go for a walk for example, they must be on a leash.
  • Any dog found running at large can be impounded at the County Shelter or returned to its owner with a citation.
  • Dogs picked up in violation of the leash law may be redeemed at the shelter at 14269 Road 28 in Madera.
  • Dogs brought in without identification are held for three (3) working days.
  • Dogs with ID or known owners are held for ten (10) working days.
  • Dogs unclaimed at the end of the holding period are available for adoption to responsible homes or can be euthanized after this time.

Animals In Vehicles

German shepherd

  • California law requires your dog to be safely enclosed in a moving vehicle or restrained to prevent them from falling, jumping or being thrown from the vehicle.
  • You can be cited for allowing your dog to ride in the back of an open vehicle unrestrained.
  • Leaving animals in an enclosed vehicle in hot weather can be deadly. Leave windows open and park in the shade whenever possible.
  • Limit car rides to when it is safe for your pet.

Accidents Involving Animals

  • If you hit any animal with a vehicle, you must report it to the appropriate law enforcement authority and to the Animal Services Department.
  • Failure to do so can be considered a "hit and run" with citations, fines, and even jail time.

Animal Abuse

  • If you see or suspect that someone is abusing or neglecting an animal, contact Madera County Animal Services immediately at (559) 675-7891.
  • You may also file a complaint through our 311 County service by dialing 311 (for local numbers) or go to
  • For emergencies after hours contact the Madera County Sheriff's Office at (559) 675-7769
  • Our officers regularly investigate these cases and enforce state and county anti-cruelty laws.
  • Know your states animal cruelty laws.

Aggressive Dogs

three terrier mixes

Anyone who encounters and/or has problems with aggressive dogs can file a complaint with Madera County Animal Services.

Officers will investigate each complaint and take appropriate action towards the dog's owner.

Barking Dogs

  • Barking dogs are considered a public nuisance.
  • Please contact Madera County Animal Services or make an animal complaint by dialing 311 (for local numbers) or going to if you have such a problem.
  • Knowing the address of where the dog's live can help speed up the process.
  • Officers will attempt to help the dog's owner resolve the problem.

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