Departments > Code Compliance > Animal Care & Control
Animal Control Laws
If you are experiencing problems with stray dogs or cats in your neighborhood, call Animal Care and Control or complete the online complaint form.
A dog must be securely enclosed or confined to its owner’s yard by a physical fence in a manner that will isolate the animal from the public and from other animals. All dogs must be behind an enclosure of at least 48 inches and declared aggressive dogs must be behind an enclosure of 60 inches. Large breed dogs and dogs with the capabilities of climbing are also recommended to be behind an enclosure of 60 inches. Enclosures shall be made of chain link, welded wire, wrought iron, brick, block, wood stockade or other material approved by the Director except where the enclosure abuts a building with a solid wall that is at least four feet tall, inclusive of windows and doors that would prevent escape. Where enclosures abut a building, there shall be minimal separation. In no case shall the separation be so great that escape would be possible.
When a dog is being walked or with its owner off its property, the dog must be on a leash and accompanied by the owner at all times. If the dog is without a leash or not accompanied by the owner, it is considered unrestrained and is in violation of the restraint ordinance.
A cat must remain within the boundaries of its owner’s property.
All female dogs and cats over the age of 6 months and male dogs and cats over the age of 8 months have to be spayed or neutered or the owner must obtain an intact pet permit. Please visit the Spay/Neuter page to download the intact pet permit and visit the Education/Outreach page for a list of available classes.
A dog, cat or ferret must be vaccinated against rabies by 4 months of age, receive a booster 12 months after that and then must be vaccinated at least once every three years.
A dog, cat or ferret must be licensed by four months of age after it has been vaccinated for rabies and the license must be renewed annually or triennially depending on the microchip status and vaccination schedule of the animal.
An owner is any person who owns, keeps, shelters, maintains, feeds, harbors or has temporary or permanent custody of a domestic or prohibited animal to remain on or about any premises occupied by the person who has control of those premises. An animal shall be deemed to be owned by a person who harbored it, fed it or sheltered it for three or more consecutive days.
Impounded animals, including those released from quarantine, shall be kept for three days starting with the first day after the impoundment. Disposition of the animals after three days is at the discretion of the city.
Proper Care of Animals
Every owner or other person having care and control of any animal shall provide the following for each animal under their care and control:
- Sufficient, nutritious and wholesome food, served in clean containers;
- Clean and wholesome water, served in a clean container;
- Adequate shelter, which allows the animal to remain dry and protected from the elements at all times and, which shall provide either natural or artificial shade to avoid direct sunlight. If the shelter is provided by enclosure, the enclosure shall allow for adequate ventilation;
- Veterinary care as needed to prevent suffering. Dangerous Dogs:
A dangerous dog in Fort Worth is defined as one that 1) makes an unprovoked attack on a person or other animal that causes bodily injury and occurs in a place other than an enclosure in which the dog was being kept or 2) commits unprovoked acts in a place other than an enclosure which the dog was being kept and those acts cause a person to reasonably believe that the animal will attack and cause bodily injury to that person.
The owner of any animal must remove manure and droppings from property, place food only in impervious containers and equip watering tanks with adequate draining.
No person shall discharge, deposit or allow to accumulate on private or public property in the City of Fort Worth, any animal waste. Violators can be charged with a Class C misdemeanor.
It is a violation to keep any animal or bird that causes frequent or long-continued noise that disturbs the comfort and repose of any person of ordinary sensibilities in the immediate vicinity. Violators can be changed with a Class C misdemeanor.
Wild and Exotic Animals
Wild and exotic animals are prohibited as pets within the city limits of Fort Worth. To find out what animals are prohibited, call the Animal Care and Control Division.
Regardless of the vaccination status of the animal at the time of the bite, the biting animal must be placed in quarantine for ten days from the day of the bite. Quarantine means placing the animal in a facility that provides:
- absolute security,
- isolation, and
- daily observation by a qualified person.
State law requires owners to pay for quarantine. Quarantine must be in a Texas Department of Health approved animal shelter, veterinary clinic or the home of the animal’s owner, provided it is an in-family bite and the animal is currently vaccinated and licensed, with the approval of the local rabies control authority.
The Fort Worth City Council has approved an ordinance banning use of chains, ropes, tethers, leashes, cables or other devices to attach an unattended dog to a stationary object or trolley system. Under the new ordinance, the tethering of dogs still will be allowed under limited circumstances when the owner is present, such as at lawful animal events or city dog parks and during veterinary treatment, grooming, training or law enforcement activity. Those who violate the new ordinance could face a fine up to $2,000, but Animal Care and Control staff emphasize that they will work with residents to educate them on this new law.
For additional City Codes regarding animals and fowl, please consult the Municipal Code, Chapter 6.
The Animal task force will review operations and adherence of procedures and laws. The task force will hold at least one public meeting about the shelter as it operates between December and March.
- Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) Policy
- Position Paper: Increasing Live Outcomes at the Fort Worth Animal Shelter
- The Daily Challenge To Save All Shelter Pets
4900 Martin St.
Dr. Tim Morton