Frequently Asked Licensing Questions

  • Licensed dogs have a higher chance of being reunited with their owners if they get lost. Field Services will try to return the dogs directly to their home if the dog is wearing an up-to-date tag.
  • Important health information about your dog can be placed in our licensing records so that if they get lost and end up in our care, we have a medical history for them.Buying your dog a license helps save the lives of animals by providing funding for pets in need that come to San Diego Humane Society.
  • It is the law. San Diego County (62.610) and the cities of Oceanside (4.17), Vista (6.07.010) and Imperial Beach (6.04.110) require all dogs to be vaccinated against rabies and to obtain a license within 30 days (a) of all dogs reaching 4 months of age, (b) of acquiring a dog, or (c) after moving to Escondido, Imperial Beach, Oceanside , Poway, San Marcos or Vista. Failure to do so within this time will result in a late fee and/or a citation. If your dog ends up at our campus and is licensed, your fees will be less. If an unlicensed and unaltered dog (running at large) is brought to a San Diego Humane campus, the fines to retrieve the dog start at $150 per day. The fines are set by California Food & Agriculture Code (30804.7) and local ordinances.
  • You can enjoy our dog park. All dogs need to be licensed and altered for entry to the San Diego Humane Society Dog Park.
  • A license tells others that your dog is vaccinated against rabies.
We only send license tags when it is a new license. When you renew your license, you keep the same license tag number; we renew the license tag number in our computer system and mail you the receipt.

Health and Safety code 121690g states that a license cannot exceed the rabies vaccination due date. It also serves as a reminder to update the rabies vaccination.

  • As an incentive to have your dog spayed or neutered.
  • California Food & Agriculture Code (30804.5) states that license fees are to be one-half or less than the regular fee if they are altered.
If your check was returned, there should have been a small form explaining why it was returned (i.e. incorrect payment, need a rabies shot, etc.). Please make the needed changes and return by the appointed date to avoid any late fees. If you have any questions, please call (619) 243-3420. Owners can also scan their rabies certificate or take a photo with their phones and send it to [email protected]. If you do this be sure to leave a call-back number so we can call you and collect payment over the phone.
San Diego Humane Society hosts vaccination clinics at all of our campuses. Click here for schedule information.

You can also get your pet vaccinated at your family vet hospital or clinic.

After the dog receives his/her rabies vaccine, Carlsbad, Del Mar, Encinitas, Escondido, Imperial Beach, Oceanside, Poway, San Diego, San Marcos, Santee, Solana Beach and Vista residents can print a dog license application and mail it to our San Diego Campus (5500 Gaines St., San Diego, CA 92110) or come in person to our Escondido Campus (3450 E Valley Parkway, 92027), Oceanside Campus (2905 San Luis Rey Rd., 92058) or San Diego Campus (5480 Gaines St., San Diego, CA  92110) during normal business hours.


All the money goes towards funding San Diego Humane Society in our mission to promote the humane treatment of animals, to prevent cruelty to animals, and provide education to enhance the human-animal bond.

Mail in the renewal form with the correct information and make sure to include the dog’s license tag number.

Call 619-243-3420 or email [email protected]. If you leave a message, make sure to include your pet’s license number, owner’s name and address.

Yes. Food and Agriculture code (30951) states that the dog needs to have a) a metal tag with name and address of owner; OR b) metal license tag issued by licensing authority.

A license is not required for cats in Escondido, Imperial Beach, Oceanside, Poway, San Marcos and Vista. However, we recommend microchip identification and keeping cats indoors, in addition to a collar and name tag.

California Code of Regulations (2606.4c) states all dogs are required to have a current rabies vaccination in order to obtain a dog license.

We would need a signed letter from your veterinarian explaining why your dog can not receive a rabies vaccination and for how long.

Yes, a dog can still get out of the yard and a license will make it easier to return your dog.

It is the law; both the County of San Diego (62.620) and the cities of
Imperial Beach (6.04.110), Oceanside (4.17),  Vista (6.07.010) require all dogs over 4 months of age be licensed.
Yes, your city ordinance states that “it shall be unlawful to own or harbor any dog within the city, except as herein provided, without first having obtained a license…” A rabies tag only provides proof of rabies vaccine and does not qualify as a dog license; a microchip only provides proof of ownership.

Please mark the appropriate box and return the renewal notice or contact us at 619-243-3420 or [email protected].

Replacement tags are $5 and will expire at the same time as the previous tag. They are available at our Escondido, Oceanside and San Diego Campuses and also can be ordered by phone or mail.

Yes, there is a $20 late fee per Oceanside (4.18) and Vista (6.07.020). There is a $10 late fee for Escondido, Imperial Beach, San Marcos and Poway.

There is a three-week turnaround time on renewals so they might have crossed in the mail.

If you notice a problem with your renewal form, please contact us at 619-243-3420 or email [email protected] so we can make sure that you will not receive another notice.

  • The dog owner must purchase a dog license at the San Diego Humane Society Escondido, Oceanside or San Diego Campus. We recommend visiting one of our campus locations in person to process the Administrative Citation. Proof of a current rabies vaccine is required and can be obtained from any state-licensed veterinarian.
  • Late fees need to be paid when purchasing a license.
  • If you no longer own the dog, no longer live in the jurisdiction, etc. please contact the San Diego Humane Society immediately at 619-243-3420 so we can make the proper changes.
  • Follow the directions on the back of the Administrative Citation to ensure compliance and avoid any additional penalties.
  • It is your responsibility to pay the Administrative Citation within thirty (30) days of issuance, including weekends and holidays.