Animal Control

If you have a life-threatening situation involving both humans and animals, please call the Seattle Police Department at 911.

Animal control officers at the Seattle Animal Shelter are responsible for enforcing the laws and codes involving animals within the city of Seattle. Officers work seven days a week to ensure human and animal safety within our city.

Many complaints may be submitted using our online service request form, a system provided and maintained by the City of Seattle. This system is available 24/7 for your convenience and allows you to track the status of your complaint and communicate with our staff. The service request form should be used for complaints or questions that are not time sensitive and do not involve threats to public safety, injured or sick animals, or animal cruelty concerns. Service requests are handled by customer service representatives seven days a week, pending handling of high-priority and emergency calls.

For complaints about animal bites, aggressive animals, injured or sick animals, animal abuse, neglect, or cruelty, or an animal-related threat to public safety, please contact our call center directly at 206-386-7387; or see our hours and days of operation.

Please review the information below as well as the links on this page to learn more about how to file a complaint, our complaint policies and procedures, and additional resources for solving animal-related problems.

Animal Control

If you have a life-threatening situation involving both humans and animals, call 911.

If you or your pet have been victims of an animal bite, attempted bite or aggressive behavior, please call us at 206-386-7387. Before calling, gather all the information you can about the owner or caretaker of the animal, including name, address and telephone number. If you do not have any contact information, please be prepared to provide a physical description of the person and related animal(s). The officer may collect statements from the victim, suspect, owner and any witnesses, and proof of rabies vaccination may be required. In some cases, the animal may be quarantined and/or impounded. Citations and/or criminal charges may result.

Animal control officers are required to verify that each animal involved in an incident has a current Seattle pet license for their dogs, cats, miniature goats and pot-bellied pigs. For more information, visit our licensing page.

Injured or sick animals

If you see an injured or sick animal — wild or domestic — in the Seattle city limits, please call us at 206-386-7387 during our business hours.

If you are able to safely contain an injured or sick domestic animal (dog, cat, rabbit, etc.), please bring it to the shelter during our business hours. If you found the animal outside business hours, please transport it to a 24-hour veterinarian who will notify us for pickup as soon as possible.

If you are able to safely contain an injured or sick wild animal, you may bring it to the shelter or transport it directly to the PAWS Wildlife Center. Visit our Wildlife page for more information about wildlife in Seattle.

Deceased animals

Dead wildlife under 15 pounds should be double-bagged and placed in your garbage can. This includes rats, squirrels, birds and other small wildlife. Large dead wildlife and dead domestic animals can be reported for pickup using our service request form. These animals are removed by animal control officers, pending high-priority and emergency calls. Residents are welcome to bring animals to the shelter during our business hours.

If your own animal passes away, you may bring the remains to the shelter for cremation. Please note that we do not offer private cremation services, meaning we are not able to get your animal's ashes back to you. Most private veterinarians provide private cremation services.

Animal cruelty includes:

  • Abandonment of a pet.
  • Physical abuse.
  • Failure to provide food, water, shelter or veterinary care.
  • Fighting of animals.
  • Putting animals in a situation that causes distress.
  • Keeping an animal in unsanitary conditions.

Learn more about what constitutes legal animal cruelty and what we can do to help. If you are concerned for the welfare of an animal, contact us immediately at 206-386-7387.

A common animal welfare concern during the summer months is about dogs left in vehicles. While it is not illegal to keep your animal in a car, it is illegal if the temperatures inside rise to dangerous levels. If you see a dog inside a vehicle that appears to be in heat distress (panting, lying on the floor to get away from the sun) or a dog inside a vehicle in a situation where it may soon be in heat distress, contact us immediately at 206-386-7387. For more information, read our blog post about dogs in hot cars.

Once a complaint is filed, officers will investigate the situation. Depending on the nature of the case, officers may impound the animal or give the owner a time period to come into compliance. Citations and/or criminal charges may result.

All domestic animals, excluding cats and pigeons, must be on leash when not on their own property. If you observe a leash law violation and have the animal owner's address or vehicle license plate number, you may submit a leash law complaint using the service request form.

The Seattle Animal Shelter has a dedicated parks team that patrols Seattle parks for off-leash dogs, and dogs in areas where they are not permitted (i.e. organized athletic fields, beaches, and children's play areas). Seattle Parks and Recreation has several designated off-leash areas throughout the city; click here to learn more about parks rules and regulations. To request a patrol of a particular park, playground or school, use the service request form.

If you find a stray animal in Seattle, please bring them to the Seattle Animal Shelter. If you are unable to bring the animal in, you may call for a pickup. Please note that pickups are handled pending high priority emergency calls, and officers cannot provide an estimated time of arrival or a guarantee of a pickup time. See our Hours, Location and Contacts page for more information.

One problem with living in a large city is learning to live with noise. Traffic noises, the sounds of neighborhood children, lawn mowers, construction, and the noise created by animals are just a few of the sounds that can disturb your peace. As a Seattle resident, you are expected to tolerate most of these noises without complaint. However, if you are disturbed by the continual, repeated and excessive noise created by a neighbor's animal, there is something you can do about it.

Barking complaint process

Step 1: Contact the owner of the animal, let him/her know you are disturbed by the noise and try to work out a solution in a neighborly manner. Offer suggestions or alternatives that might help reduce the noise during the times you are bothered, and allow the pet owner a reasonable amount of time to solve the problem. Record all contacts with the pet owner and responses received, as well as the dates and times of the noise violations.

Step 2: If you have tried to solve the problem in this way and the noise continues, you may file a first complaint with the Seattle Animal Shelter, using our service request form. We will send a letter to the pet owner advising him/her that a complaint has been filed and educating him/her on the applicable Seattle Municipal Code. Please allow 10-14 days for the animal owner to receive the letter and abate the problem.

Step 3: If the noise continues after 10-14 days, you may call to file a second complaint. An officer will contact the pet owner and provide suggestions and resources to address the problem. The officer will also issue a "verbal order to cease the noise" and will contact you to let you know that has been done and send you a declaration form.

Step 4: The final step is for you to complete a declaration form. This form allows you to give the Seattle Animal Shelter a written statement of the complaint, as well as the basis for any legal action that the City may pursue against the pet owner. All complainants must be willing to testify in court and be able to verify that the information contained in the declaration is true and correct.

Please note that all of our barking complaints are handled on a 90-day cycle. This means that if there is a 90-day lapse between complaints, we return to the first step, which is sending a letter.

Complaints are often made to Seattle Animal Shelter about dogs whose owners allow them to run loose in violation of the leash law. These dogs trespass and damage other people's property, leave fecal deposits and generally are a neighborhood nuisance. The Seattle Animal Shelter is not able to provide immediate staff response to each complaint, but, with the assistance, involvement and cooperation of the complainant, Seattle Animal Shelter can take legal action against the owners of the errant dog(s).

Leash law complaint process

Step 1: Contact the owner of the animal, let them know the pet was loose and try to work out a solution in a neighborly manner. Offer suggestions or alternatives that might prevent the pet from escaping, and allow the owner a reasonable amount of time to solve the problem. Record all contacts with the pet owner and responses received, as well as dates, times and locations of the leash law violations.

Step 2: If the violations continue, you may submit a complaint using the service request form. We will send a letter to the pet owners advising them that a complaint has been filed and educating them on the applicable Seattle Municipal Code. Please allow 10-14 days for the pet owner to receive the letter and abate the problem.

Step 3: If the violation occurs again, please submit another complaint using the service request form. An officer will contact the pet owner and provide suggestions and resources to address the problem. They will also issue a verbal warning and will contact you to let you know that has been done and send you a declaration form.

Step 4: The final step is for you to complete a declaration form. This form allows you to give Seattle Animal Shelter a written statement of the complaint, as well as the basis for any legal action that the City may pursue against the pet owner. All complainants must be willing to testify in court and be able to verify that the information contained in the declaration is true and correct.

Please note that all of our leash law complaints are handled on a six-month cycle. This means that, if there is a six-month lapse between complaints, we return to the first step, which is sending a letter.

Animal waste must be removed immediately from public property or property not owned by the pet owner. Additionally, pet waste must be scooped every 24 hours from the pet owner's property. If you observe a pet owner not scooping their pet's waste and have the address or license plate information of the pet owner, you may report the incident using the service request form. If you do not have the information about the pet owner, you can pick up a "Scoop It" sign from the Seattle Animal Shelter during business hours or print a "Scoop It" sign yourself.

Visit Seattle Public Utilities' Pet Waste pollution page for more information about managing pet waste.

Cats, dogs and other pets that cause property damage to public or private property can be reported to the shelter.

If you are experiencing property damage caused by a neighbor's pets, first you should:

  1. Communicate with the pet owner about the damage.
    Often, neighborly discussions can be very helpful. Let the pet owners know that you are experiencing property damage. Sometimes pet owners are not aware of the problem or the impacts on other residents. Try to work out a mutually agreeable and reasonable solution in a neighborly manner.
  2. Submit a complaint.
    Fill out the service request form. Please provide as much information as possible, including the address where the animal resides. An officer will investigate.
  3. Prevent future property damage.
    If you are experiencing property damage by cats, review our Outdoor Cats page.

All dogs, cats, miniature goats and pot-bellied pigs are required to have a Seattle pet license.  Find out more on our Licensing page.

Before surrendering your pet, please read our Surrender Your Pet section. If you live within the Seattle city limits and you are unable to bring your pet to the shelter to be surrendered, our staff can pick up that pet; a fee will apply. Please note that pickups are handled pending high-priority emergency calls, and officers cannot provide an estimated time of arrival or a guarantee of a pickup time.