Being a responsible pet owner is key to maintaining the bond between you and your pet, and making sure you have a safe, healthy life together. Here are some things all pet owners should do to make sure their pet is a good community member.

What do I need to know as a dog owner?

By Saint Paul Ordinance, your civil and legal duties as a dog owner include the following:

  • Your dog must be licensed. Dogs three months of age and older are required to be licensed. The metal license tag must be affixed to a collar or harness. There are a variety of license types depending on if your dog is spayed, neutered, and/or microchipped.
  • Dogs are not allowed to run at large. Animals in an unfenced yard that are not on a tie-out or leashed are considered running-at-large.
  • Dog owners are required to dispose of all dog droppings. When you take your pet out for a walk, you are responsible for disposal of your dog's droppings. You must also remove dog droppings from your yard to keep odors and flies down.
  • Be considerate of your neighbors and do not allow your dog to bark excessively. Saint Paul City Ordinance 200.14, makes it unlawful for any person to "own, keep, have in possession, or harbor any dog which howls, yelps, or barks to the reasonable annoyance of any other person or persons."
  • If a complaint about a barking dog has been filed against you, a written advisement will be issued by one of our officers. If second and subsequent complaints are filed and a written advisement is on file at the Animal Control Center, further action will be taken.
  • Every dog (and cat and ferret) four months of age and older must be vaccinated against rabies. A metal or durable plastic rabies vaccination tag must be worn by the pet whenever outside. Rabies vaccinations must be kept current.
  • If you have more than four dogs, cats or other animals over 16 weeks old, you must get a Keeping of Animals Permit. Download a PDF application for this permit.

See the full text of Saint Paul's Animal Ordinances on Municode Library.

For detailed information about external structures used for animals, including dog houses, review a PDF of the Keeping of Animals Permit Application.

Fences and Restraints

If you have an adequately fenced yard, you can allow your pet to roam free in the yard. An adequate fence means one that surrounds the yard and is high enough to keep the dog from jumping, with no holes or unsecured gates that the dog could push through.

Keep the area clean by disposing of droppings regularly. It is never a good idea to leave the animal unattended for extended periods of time. Unattended dogs may bark excessively, become bored and dig under or jump over fences, and are at risk for theft and attack from other animals (especially small dogs that may be seen as prey for wild animals, like birds of prey or coyotes).

No Fencing?

Not every dog owner has a yard. If you don't have a yard at all, you must exercise your dog on a leash or at an off-leash dog park. Saint Paul Parks and Recreation operates public dog parks, and some apartments or condo associations also may have private dog parks for use by their residents. 

Some dog owners have a yard but may not have a fence. If that's the case, a tie-out or tree-to-tree or house-to-garage wire with pulley or glide may be a good option.

Pet supply or hardware stores sell supplies to make a run or set up a secure tie-out. This will allow your dog to use your yard for exercise or toileting without a leashed walk or visit to the dog park. Tie-outs may not reach sidewalks, alleys, or neighboring properties. 

Things to Keep in Mind
  • Electronic fences are not legal restraints and may not be substituted for a fence in Saint Paul.
  • Chains, tethers, and pulley systems can be used to confine your dog to your property for a maximum of two hours at a time. Access the complete rules for these systems can be found on Municode Library. View a detailed description of the Saint Paul Legislative Code.
  • If you use Saint Paul's Off Leash Dog Parks make sure your dog is licensed, and review the Dog Park Rules and Etiquette before going.

What do I need to know as a cat owner?

All cats are required to be rabies vaccinated, just like dogs and ferrets. While there is no leash law for cats—owners may allow their cats outside-- Saint Paul Animal Control strongly recommends that cats be kept inside.

Indoor/outdoor cats are at risk of:
  • Attack by predators, including other cats, dogs, coyotes, and birds of prey
  • Trapping, theft, and accidental or intentional poisoning
  • Injury or death from fighting and cars
  • Potential exposure to serious diseases, such as rabies and feline leukemia, and parasites
Property Owners:

Property owners have the right to confine and remove any cat that comes onto their property. Property owners should research area shelters or foster-based nonprofits to ensure there is a place for them to bring the confined cat before they begin trapping.

Injured Cats and Kittens:

If you find a sick or injured cat, or kittens with or without their mama, call Saint Paul Animal Control right away.


Spay and neuter are surgical procedures done by a veterinarian that help control pet homelessness and overpopulation. To learn more about the medical, behavioral and financial benefits visit the Spay and Neuter page

Disaster Planning for Pets

Tornadoes, fires, blizzards, power outages...disasters can  strike at any time. Many people plan on what they will do for their family members  but it’s important to include pets in that plan.

Here are some tips to help keep your pet safe if the worst happens:

  • Make sure your pet is wearing tags with up-to-date contact information for you. If your pet is microchipped, make sure the microchipping company has your contact information.
  • Keep a  current photo of your pet handy.
  • Make a pet emergency kit with items such as:
    • Pet food
    • Bottled water
    • Veterinary records
    • Cat litter/pan
    • Food dishes
    • First Aid kit and supplies
    • Extra collar and extra leash
  • Identify nearby shelters: The City will announce if public shelters that accept animals will be opened, but it is critically important to find out which hotels accept pets if you have to evacuate.
  • Keep your pet in a pet carrier, or on a leash, collar, and harness so that the pet won't escape if panicked. 

Check out Ready.gov for more information.

Last Edited: May 8, 2024