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Laws to Know

Codes and laws related to animals in Washington County, Oregon.

NEW HOURS as of December 8, 2022

Until further notice, Washington County Animal Services and the Bonnie Hays Animal Shelter will be open for walk-ins Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Read more about this change.

There are a few important laws to know as a pet owner in Washington County. Some of these laws apply even if you are watching someone else’s pet. For more information on the laws that protect people and animals in Washington County, read the complete ordinance at “Title 6 – Animals” or call us at 503-846-7041 and we’ll be happy to answer your questions.

Licensing

All dogs living in Washington County must be licensed. Other pets are not required to have a license.

You must buy a license for your dog:

  • When they are six months old or get their permanent canine teeth, whichever occurs first.
  • Within 30 days of moving to Washington County; or
  • Immediately upon you taking ownership of a dog that is old enough to be licensed.

Abuse & neglect

Abusing or neglecting an animal is against the law. Things like confining an animal in a way that endangers them; depriving an animal of food, water, shelter or veterinary care; or causing injury to an animal can be considered abuse or neglect.

If you see someone doing any of the above or are worried about an animal, call us at 503-846-7041.
We want to help and will need important information from you.

When you contact us, we will ask for your name, address and phone number. We will also ask you to tell us what kind of animal is involved, where that animal lives and what you have seen that is concerning.

We take these calls very seriously and give priority to animals who are in immediate danger.

Dangerous dogs

Dogs can sometimes behave aggressively and if your dog chases, bites or attacks a person or another animal, it might be found to be dangerous. If a dog is found to be dangerous, the dog owner must follow certain rules to keep other animals and our community safe. These rules are determined by the dog’s specific behavior at the time of the incident.

If you have a dog that is found to be dangerous, you will also be required to pay additional licensing fees.

Continuous annoyance (Barking)

If a dog barks, whines, howls or makes other sounds for five minutes or more in any 15-minute period, it can be considered a nuisance.

If you have a neighbor with a barking dog, we suggest you first try to talk to them. Sometimes dog owners don’t know that the dog is barking when they are gone – talking can sometimes solve the problem!

If talking doesn’t work, consider mediation services where a third party will talk through the problem to try to help resolve things. If you live east of 185th Ave. (including Tigard, Tualatin and Sherwood), you can reach out to the Beaverton Center for Mediation and Dialogue. If you live west of 185th Ave. (including Cornelius, Forest Grove, North Plains and Banks) you can reach out to the Hillsboro Mediation Program.

If you would like to have an Animal Services Officer try to contact the dog owner about the noise, call us at 503-846-7041.

Dog running loose

Your dog must be leashed when it is not on your property for their safety and the safety of our community. If your dog leaves your property, they must be on a physical leash that is seven feet or shorter and be controlled by someone strong enough to handle them. We take this law very seriously and strictly enforce it.

There are places where your dog can be off leash – your own property, private property if the owner gives you permission, and official off-leash dog parks.

If you see a dog off leash when it shouldn’t be, you can call us. We will have an Animal Services Officer attempt to make contact with the dog owner. If an Animal Services Officer finds a dog off leash and alone, they may bring the dog to the shelter which will result in the owner paying impound and boarding fees.