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!

3 Maple Leaf Homes Burn in Two-Alarm Fire


Photo Courtesy of Fire Buff John Odegard

Photo Courtesy of Fire Buff John Odegard

Photo Courtesy of Fire Buff John Odegard

Photo Courtesy of Fire Buff John Odegard

Photo Courtesy of Fire Buff John Odegard

July 23—An early morning fire heavily damages three north Seattle homes in the Maple Leaf neighborhood.At 3 a.m., firefighters responded to a report of a fire at a home under construction located in the 8500 block of 8th Avenue NE. When Engine Company 16 arrived, flames were shooting 30-40 feet into the air from the vacant home. The flames exposed to the homes to the north and south of the construction house catching both homes on fire.

The incident commander called for a two-alarm fire, doubling the number of firefighters responding to the scene. The extra firefighters were needed to battle the three burning homes and protect the neighboring properties. At the height of the fire there were 99 firefighters and 29 fire apparatus on the scene.

Two families of four safely evacuated the homes to the north and to the south of the burning structure. Firefighters rescued a bearded dragon pet lizard in its terrarium from the top floor of the burning home to the north.  A cat is still missing from the home to the south.









Heavy smoke from the fire forced the evacuation of an 86th Street home located just to the west of the north house.  Flying embers from the fire landed on a garage/work-shed in the back of the burning homes causing a fence and the shed to catch fire.







The heat of the fire caused about a half dozen second floor windows to break at the Saint Catherine’s School across the street from the burning houses. The school did not suffer any fire or smoke damage.







The under construction home and the south home are total losses. The north home damage is extensive and is still being assessed. Fire investigator estimate the damage will be more than a million dollars to property and contents.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. The Seattle Police Arson Bomb Squad and the ATF are assisting in the investigation.

There were no injuries.

Green Lake algae scum with toxins found; only harmful where scum is found

Toxic algae has been found in accumulated scum along the shores of Green Lake; however the lake is not closed and remains open to many activities.

King County Department of Natural Resources has been conducting weekly testing of water collected at the east and west swimming beaches at Green Lake as well as scum samples submitted through the State Toxic Algae Program. After each test, the information is reviewed by Public Health – Seattle & King County. Tests have revealed that the toxins are currently found in the scummy algae that accumulate and drift in some places along the lakeshore. Due to toxicity levels and algae movement, Public Health does not recommend closure at this time.

People and pets should not wade or play in the lake where the scum has accumulated. Dog owners should be especially cautious not to allow animals to drink from the lake in these areas. If there is water contact for a pet, it is important to rinse  the pet well to remove all algae.

The lake remains open to fishing, boating, stand-up paddling boarding and other recreational activities. Seattle Parks and Recreation’s lifeguarded beaches do not open until Saturday, June 20. Before that date, individuals who chose to open water swim are recommended to swim only when accompanied by a boat and to stay away from scum patches.

An early summer-like spring has promoted the algae bloom, and continued warm weather continues to promote it.

Green Lake is home to cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae that are regularly present in small numbers. When nutrients are plentiful and the weather is warm, the conditions are right for an algae bloom to take place. Winds can concentrate the buoyant cyanobacteria into accumulations or scums along the shoreline, which may increase the amount of toxin that could be ingested by pets or people using the lake recreationally.

Symptoms of illness from liver toxin are flu-like and may include abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting.  If symptoms occur after ingesting lake water, park users should consult a health care professional immediately. Pets are at highest risk.

For more information on cyanobacteria, please visit the Washington Department of Health toxic algae website at .