Pet Licensing 101

Why should I get a pet license?

As you might expect, we hear this question. A lot. We understand — although $30-40 to purchase a two-year license for a spayed or neutered cat or dog won’t break most bank accounts, it is still an investment of your hard-earned dollars. It’s also an investment in the Seattle Animal Shelter, its services and its commitment to helping you and your pet in your time of need. Luckily, our Seattle Animal Shelter is totally worth it.

First, let’s face it together: Pets get lost.

None of us wants to imagine losing our best pal, but we receive reports of lost pets every day. Additionally, there are steady streams of lost and found pets posted daily on websites such as the Lost and Found Dogs of King County Facebook Group, Lost and Found Pets WA State and Craigslist. Many lost animals are well-loved, cared for and were never lost before. It just takes one accident, and it’s worth it to be prepared just in case…

  • A pet sitter, friend or child leaves a door ajar.
  • A hole rips in the window screen.
  • Your pet gets scared by fireworks, a car misfiring or even an earthquake.
  • You get into an auto accident and your pet bolts when the door opens.
  • There’s a hole in the fence you didn’t know about.
  • The new kitten’s favorite game turns out to be running for the door.
  • Squirrel!

The list is endless. Accidents happen. A pet license is one important, easy way to prepare!

But isn’t a microchip the same thing?

Microchips are amazing. A microchip is tiny – about the size of a grain of rice – and it is implanted under the skin, usually between the shoulders. Each chip contains a unique identification number, which can be read painlessly with a microchip scanner. Most veterinarians and animal rescues have scanners. If the microchip has been properly registered, you can contact the registration company and they will try to contact the owners. Microchips provide permanent identification and are highly recommended. However, they work best in partnership with visible identification. Plus, you can easily add your pet’s microchip number to your Seattle license record for added protection.

Visible identification is essential for getting lost pets home. Tags are deceivingly simple, yet so important. A tag tells your pet’s finder that he’s owned and lost, and not a stray that can be kept or ignored. By providing the Seattle Animal Shelter’s phone number, it makes it easy for the finder to help. And while Seattle is an extremely cat- and dog-friendly city, your pet’s finder may not be savvy about microchips and how to help a lost animal. The phone number on a license tag provides a simple call to action that doesn’t require additional knowledge or a quest to find a microchip scanner. We also recommend your pet wear a tag with your phone number, but a pet license is still vital in providing someone your pet’s finder can call when you can’t get to the phone. Perhaps someday our pets will all be GPS-equipped, but in the meantime a license tag can help be your pet’s voice if he becomes lost.

Anatomy of a Seattle License Tag

  • Seattle Pet License – signals that this pet is legally owned and registered with the City of Seattle.
  • Unique Identification Number – can be used to find the pet’s record and contact information.
  • Seattle Animal Shelter’s Pet Licensing Phone Number – lets the finder know who to call for help with returning the lost pet to its family.

To keep things simple and maximize the funds that can be applied to animal services, we provide a permanent tag with your initial license purchase. When it’s time to renew the license, you’ll receive a postcard reminder notice, and you can easily renew online, in person, by phone or by mail, and your pet keeps its original tag. It’s as simple as that! If your pet loses its tag, you can order a replacement for just $5.

I’m sure my pet is already licensed!

It’s easy to assume that your pet is licensed, but that may not be the case. We partner with local businesses such as veterinarians and pet supply stores to help get the word out about pet licensing, but not all animal organizations offer licensing information. It’s wise to check your records and tags to be sure you have a current Seattle pet license. If in doubt, you can check by contacting the Seattle Pet Licensing Office at or 206-386-4262.

In Seattle, dogs need to wear their license tag at all times. For cats, if you’ve added your cat’s microchip number to its current license record, your cat can go tagless. We recommend your cat wear visible identification but understand that some cats don’t tolerate collars. For pets with multiple tags, you can purchase tag silencers or pouches at most pet supply stores. While tags may be annoying at times, trust us – the peace of mind knowing that your pet has identification in case it gets lost is well worth it.

Licensed pets get home faster.

In many cases they can avoid coming to the shelter altogether! Need a lift? When our humane law enforcement officers encounter your lost pet, they can use pet license information to contact you immediately. Whenever possible, they offer the pet a ride straight home. If your animal is in need of veterinary care, license information can help us contact you quickly to ensure you can make medical decisions for your pet.

When a community member finds a lost pet, they call the Seattle Animal Shelter. We can quickly pull up contact information based on the license tag number. Up-to-date license information enables us to simply put the finder on hold while we call the pet’s owner. We are often able to connect the finder and owner to return the pet home directly. It’s quick, easy and a great feeling of community coming together to help one another.

The Seattle Animal Shelter aims to get lost pets back to their loving homes as quickly and easily as possible. Not only do these efforts result in less stress on the pet, finder and owner, but they also free up resources that can be used to help other animals in need. Win-win!

Did you know? Your license fee helped an animal today.

Pet license payments are deposited in the Seattle Animal Shelter’s operating budget, which means that your pet license helps fund lifesaving programs including animal rescue, rehabilitation and adoption, humane law enforcement and low-cost spay and neuter. Our open admission shelter boasts a more than 90 percent save rate, and there are no time or space limits for animals our care. In fact, we utilize assistance from hundreds of in-shelter and foster care volunteers to expand our capacity to help more animals, and our policy is to focus on the deed, not the breed with regard to traditionally stereotyped animals such as pit bulls. We also regularly save the lives of injured wildlife and partner with PAWS Wildlife Center to ensure wildlife is properly rehabilitated and released.

Whether it’s preventing unwanted pet pregnancies, finding loving homes for animals in need or rescuing abused and neglected pets, the Seattle Animal Shelter uses pet license revenue to help more community members and save more lives. It’s a little tag with a big impact.

Who needs a Seattle pet license?

If you live in the Seattle city limits, your cat, dog, potbellied pig or pygmy goat should be licensed within 30 days of residence. That way your pet is protected in case they become lost, your license fees are supporting animal services provided by the Seattle Animal Shelter and you don’t have to worry about getting a ticket for being unlicensed. Pets who live outside of Seattle can use this handy list offered by Regional Animal Services of King County to determine where they should license:

What does it cost?

Seattle currently offers the following options for cats and dogs:

$33 Unaltered One-Year License $22 Altered One-Year License
$49 Unaltered Two-Year License $30 Altered Two-Year License
$51 Unaltered One-Year License $30 Altered One-Year License
$76 Unaltered Two-Year License $40 Altered Two-Year License

Goat and pig licenses run $20-120. Please see for more details.

Pets qualify for the altered rates if they have been spayed or neutered. For information about affordable spay and neuter, visit or call 206-386-4260 to learn about Seattle’s Spay and Neuter Clinic. For those not yet spayed or neutered (e.g., they are too young for surgery), we offer a six month provisional license for cats ($11) and dogs ($16) so that they can be protected by a license while awaiting surgery.

Seattle offers a discount of 50 percent off license fees for pet owners 60 years of age and older with a Gold Card for Healthy Aging, and for persons with disabilities with a FLASH card. Learn more or apply for a card by visiting the Mayor’s Office for Senior Citizens or calling 206-684-0500.

On the fourth Friday of each month, from 3-6 p.m., we host a “Protect Your Pet” license, rabies and microchip clinic in partnership with Good Neighbor Vet. Purchase or renew your pet’s license at the Seattle Animal Shelter during this clinic and receive a free rabies vaccine and free exam for the licensed pet. You can also purchase a microchip during the clinic for just $15, and other vaccinations are available for an additional fee.

Licensing is easy!

Purchase or renew your cat or dog license online at, in person at the Seattle Animal Shelter or any of our more than 40 local business partners, over the phone at 206-386-4262 or by mailing an application to Seattle Pet Licensing at 2061 15th Ave. W., Seattle, WA 98119. It takes just a few minutes and requires only basic contact and pet information with payment. Easy stuff! You can also add, edit and update details later – as often as needed – by contacting the Seattle Pet Licensing Office at or 206-386-4262. We urge pet owners to add their microchip number to their record, if possible, and encourage owners to add vacation alerts to their pet records so that we have local pet-sitter contact information when you are away from home.

Ready to license? Visit to sign up now!

Does that baby bird need help?

It’s that time of year in Seattle, and it’s happening everywhere in the city. You may not even be aware of it until you find yourself being chirped at or dive-bombed by a wild bird that has seemingly lost its mind, or until you find a helpless nestling or awkward fledgling on the ground. Now through about mid-August, our feathered wild neighbors will be busy raising their next generation, and during this time the odds of encountering a protective parent and their naïve young will be very high. Most of the birds you will encounter will need nothing more from you than a little respectful distance, but you may occasionally encounter a baby bird out of the nest that could benefit from a helping hand.

But how will you know if the baby bird you encounter needs help? And, if it needs help, what should you do? Check out this simple, two-minute video recently posted on to help answer these questions. Additional sources of information and assistance are below.

The Seattle Animal Shelter responds to dead and injured wildlife within Seattle city limits. Give us a call at 206-386-7387 if you require assistance.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife provides great information on what to do when you find a baby bird out of the nest, and the PAWS Wildlife Center in Lynnwood provides a useful flowchart that asks a series of yes or no questions to help you decide whether or not a baby bird needs help. A baby mammal version is also available.

“Mouse” Valuable Players say “Go Huskies!”

When do mice cheer on huskies? When the University of Washington Women’s Basketball Team goes to the NCAA Final Four, they do!

When the Huskies women represented UW in the NCAA Final Four last month, our fabulous Critter Team volunteers huddled up and realized that our elite team of lady mice wanted in on the action. Here they are dedicating a practice to the Dawgs:

(From left to right: Titanium, Tin and Iodine)

These ladies are not only full of skills and spirit, but also show off their smarts off the court as the “Periodic Table of Elemice.” (See the Small Mammals section on our adoptable animals webpage and you’ll see what we mean.)

Meet our team captains:

  • Titanium: 2.5 inches  tall, enjoys eating lots of greens
  • Tin (aka Tina): 2.7 inches tall, always looking out for her teammates
  • Iodine: 2.3 inches tall, loves working out on the wheel

Dedicated team members, these ladies and the rest of their squad would love to be adopted in pairs. Could you be the new coach they’ve been waiting for?

Learn about all our adoptable athletes by clicking Adopt at

Seattle Animal Shelter encourages owners to license their pets for National Pet ID Week

It’s National Pet ID Week, and the Seattle Animal Shelter is encouraging Seattle pet owners to make sure their dogs, cats, miniature goats and potbellied pigs are licensed. Pet license fees directly support the shelter’s lifesaving work, and licenses quickly help return lost pets to their owners.

Licensed pets that get lost are often spared a trip to the shelter or to a vet when they are found. The Seattle Animal Shelter’s phone number is engraved in the license, and a simple phone call to the shelter will help identify the pet and its owner. Reuniting the pet with its owner becomes a less stressful situation for the pet and keeps shelter resources available for other animals in need. Pet licenses are also visible identification, showing roaming animals as owned and lost, not as a stray that the finder should keep or ignore.

“Pet licenses help lost pets get back home,” said Don Jordan, Seattle Animal Shelter director. “But reuniting lost pets with their families is only the beginning of the benefits of licensing your pet.”

Jordan said that license fees directly support the Seattle Animal Shelter’s lifesaving work. By licensing your pet, he explained, you help the shelter do everything from rehabilitating neglected animals to supporting community events to rescuing injured wildlife to providing affordable spay and neuter surgeries and, of course, helping pets in need find loving homes.

Purchasing a pet license is easy to do – submit your license payment and just a few pieces of information, mainly contact information and a brief description of your pet. Owners can:

License fees for cats and dogs that have been spayed or neutered are $30-$40 for two years. Unaltered cat and dog two-year license fees are $49-$76. Seniors and adults with disabilities may receive a discount by supplying their Seattle Gold or FLASH card number.

Cat and dog owners may also benefit from a monthly “Protect Your Pet” clinic, 3-6 p.m. on the fourth Friday of each month. Seattle residents can bring their cats and dogs to the shelter and receive a free rabies vaccination and/or $15 microchip with the purchase or renewal of the pet’s license. Additional vaccines are $10 each. The Protect Your Pet clinic is held in partnership with Good Neighbor Vet, which provides the vaccination and microchip services in its mobile unit. The next event is this Friday, April 22.

Seattle Municipal Code Section 9.25.050 requires licensing of all cats and dogs in Seattle. For more information or to purchase or renew your pet’s license, please visit or call 206-386-4262. The Seattle Animal Shelter is located at 2061 15th Ave. W. and is open noon to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday, for licensing and adoptions.

Seattle Animal Shelter reminds pet owners to protect pets from the heat

It’s officially spring, the time of year we start opening our windows and spending more time outdoors. As we enjoy the rising temperatures and the more than 70-degree weather forecasted for the next couple of days, the Seattle Animal Shelter is reminding pet owners to exercise good judgment and use common sense when it comes to protecting their pets.

As many homes in the Northwest aren’t equipped with air conditioning due to our normally moderate climate, people leave their windows wide open during warm weather. The fresh air is essential to you and your pets, but be aware of the enticement and danger an open, screenless window can pose for cats.

“Make sure your window screens are secure, especially on second floors and above,” said Seattle Animal Shelter Director Don Jordan. “Open, screenless windows are an invitation to tempt the old adage ‘curiosity killed the cat.’ They may be known for always landing on their feet, but those little paws are no match for the combination of hard ground and gravity when the fall begins six, or even two, stories up.”

Jordan also warned pet owners against leaving animals in vehicles.

“It’s not worth the risk. Cars in direct sunlight can reach fatal temperatures within just a few minutes,” he said. “Even on a 70-degree day, cars left in the sun can turn into lethal ovens, and, with the movement of the sun, cars originally left in the shade can soon be in direct sunlight.”

A Washington state law that went into effect last year makes it a violation just to leave an animal unattended in a vehicle or enclosed space, if the animal could be harmed or killed by exposure to excessive heat or cold, lack of ventilation or lack of water. Penalties under this law are in addition to potential animal cruelty charges. Jordan said that the shelter’s humane law enforcement officers responding to calls about animals left in hot cars will utilize all means necessary to access vehicles to remove the animals.

The Seattle Animal Shelter offers the following tips for protecting pets during hot weather:

  • Never leave your animal tethered or kenneled in direct sunlight. Provide a shady area for retreat, such as a dog house, porch or shady tree, and always provide access to plenty of cool water.
  • If you leave animals indoors, open the screened windows, keep a fan running, provide plenty of water, and if possible, leave them in a cool location.
  • Never leave dogs or cats unattended in a closed, locked vehicle. Animals do not perspire like humans; they cool themselves by panting. Vinyl, leather and even cloth seats in vehicles get hot under animals’ feet and prevent them from perspiring through their paws.
  • If you must travel with your pet, carry water. If a trip requires you leave your pet in the car at any point, think about saving that for another day. It’s not worth the risk.
  • Avoid overexerting your animal in hot weather. Exercise is fine when taken in moderation, but obesity, old age, underlying disease and previous bouts of heat stroke can predispose an animal to the condition.
  • For birds, take caution and place the bird’s cage away from direct sunlight during the intense heat of the afternoon. Provide water and fruits and vegetables with high moisture content.

If you see an animal that may be in need of assistance, or if you have questions, contact the Seattle Animal Shelter at 206-386-7387 (PETS). Information is also available online at