Frequently Asked Questions

Animal Bites and Reporting

  • What happens when a dog or cat bites someone?

    When the skin of a human is penetrated or broken by the teeth or claws of a dog or cat, it is required by law to be reported due to the concern for possible exposure to the rabies virus.  Rabies is communicable to humans by the saliva from an infected animal.  Animals that have bitten or scratched, are required by law to be quarantined for ten days from the date of the bite.  If the biting/scratching animal is currently vaccinated for rabies it may qualify for a home quarantine.  Home quarantine is not authorized in the following instances:
    • If a dog was roaming at large when the bite/scratch occurred
    • Dogs or cats that are not current on their rabies vaccination at the time of the bite/scratch
    • Safety reasons
    These animals are required to be quarantined at WCRAS or at a veterinary hospital for public safety.
    That’s why it’s important to keep your pet’s vaccinations up to date based on the requirements in the rabies compendium published by the NASPHV.


  • What happens if a wild animal bites a person or a pet?

    If the animal that bites is a wild animal, the report is handled by WCRAS in conjunction with the Washoe County Health Department and the person or domestic animal exposed could be placed in quarantine for an extended time depending on if the wild animal is known and available to be tested for the rabies virus.  In some areas of the country the rabies virus is prevalent in raccoons, skunks and bats.  That’s not to say those species are all diseased but it is a very valid reason to always keep a safe distance from wildlife.  Even the cutest ones!

  • What is Quarantine?

    Quarantine means to be kept in a controlled environment, in isolation from other animals or people, to be observed for signs of illness or abnormal behavior. Dogs and cats who have been identified as causing a break in the skin of a human by its teeth or by scratch are required to be quarantined for a period not less than 10 days from the date of exposure. Many animals that have current vaccinations, and a secure area to be contained are allowed to be quarantined at home but some may be required to be held at a veterinary hospital or at WCRAS for the quarantine period.

  • What happens with my pet's rabies information?

    Under state law (Nevada Administrative Code 441A.412) your veterinarian is required to send a copy of the vaccination certificate to the Washoe County Health District.

Contact Information

Field Services

  • Do I need to leash my dog on BLM land?

    WCRAS does not have jurisdiction over leash law on BLM or Forest Service land. However, BLM does have leash regulations which can vary by park and time of year. During certain times of the year some parks may have coyote traps out for wildlife regulation, which can be a danger to your dog if not on leash. According to the BLM Nevada State Office, it is best to contact the park about dog leashing before you go. To contact the office in your area click here. You can also visit these sites for more information:

    Best Dog-Friendly Public Lands

    Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area

    Outdoor Ethics

    Forest Service Website

  • What can I do about all the feral cats living in my neighborhood?

    Animal Services does not pickup cats. Nationally, Trap, Neuter, Return, and Monitor (TNRM) programs are considered best practice for feral cat management. Animal Services encourages our community to rigorously pursue the reduction of feral cats through TNRM in accordance with applicable Washoe County Code 55.475

    For information or help with feral cats or trapping please contact Nevada Humane Society (NHS) at 775-856-2000 ext. 200 or 2825 Longley Lane Suite B.

    Additional resources:

    Nevada Humane Society
    Alley Cat Allies

  • At what temperature is it ok to leave my pet in the car?

    In accordance with NRS 202.487 "a person shall not allow a pet to remain unattended in a parked or standing motor vehicle if conditions, including, without limitation, extreme heat or cold, present a significant  risk to the health and safety of the pet."

    Washoe County Code 55.190 Endangering Animals states that it is unlawful for any person to hold or confine an animal in a pen, house, car, truck, trailer or any other place without a sufficient supply of good and wholesome air, water, food and necessary veterinary care.

    According to the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) the temperature inside a vehicle can rise 20⁰ F in 10 minutes, and up to 40⁰ F within an hour. It has also been shown that cracking a window a few inches has little effect on the temperature inside of your vehicle when it is not in motion.  A study performed by the Louisiana Office of Public Health found that the temperatures in a dark sedan as well as a light colored mini van parked out in a hot but overcast day still raised from 96⁰F to 125⁰F in just 20 minutes.

    It would be advised to never leave an animal in a vehicle unattended in temperatures over 60⁰F and to always have water and proper air circulation for your pet. Help spread the word.

  • Is there a leash law in Washoe County?

    Within the congested areas of Washoe County, your dog must be properly contained and/or restrained at all times for the exception of designated off-leash areas. Aren't sure if you live in congested or un-congested?

    • Click here to determine if your residence is in congested or uncongested areas.
    • Read more about Chapter 55 Code relative to animals here.
  • Can I have livestock or chickens in the city limits?

    Animal Services does not regulate livestock zoning within the cities or county. To find zoning regulations in your jurisdiction please contact one of the following departments for guidance dependent on where you reside:

    Washoe County Community Services Division (775) 328-6106                  
    Washoe County Code Enforcement   Email:

    Reno Code Enforcement (775) 334-4636                
    City of Reno Code Enforcement    Email:

    Sparks Code Enforcement (775) 353-4063
    City of Sparks Zoning    

  • What can I do about my neighbor's dog that is always loose?

    Call WCRAS dispatch at 322-DOGS (3647) and they will give you the information that you need and may dispatch an officer to the location if the dog is currently at large.  They will need your address and the address where the dog lives. You may also file a complaint online.

  • Is it against the law for my dog to bark?

    All animals make some noise and that is to be expected. In accordance with Washoe County Code 55.125, "except as provided in NRS 40.140, it is unlawful for any person to keep, harbor or own any animal which by making loud and frequent noises causes annoyance to the neighborhood or to any persons in the vicinity."

    Noise complaints can be filed online click here.

  • How many pets can a person have?

    In accordance with Washoe County Code 55.390, within the Map of congested areas of Washoe County, not more than five dogs and seven cats over the age of four months are permitted per household. If you wish to have more than the permissible number of animals, you will need to apply for a Variance Permit. For more information on permits, click here.

  • Can you come pick up my pet?

    Animal Services does not provide this service, our officers focus on lost, abandoned, and neglected/abused pets. If you need to surrender your pet, please contact Nevada Humane Society at 775-856-2000 or SPCA of Northern Nevada at 775-324-7773.

  • What can I do about the smell of feces from my neighbor’s yard?

    Washoe County Code 55.110 states a person must keep the area that the animal is kept or housed free from animal waste and offensive odors. Animal Services recommends a person to remove feces at least once a day to reduce offensive odors. Animal waste should be bagged and placed within a trash can for disposal. This procedure will assist with the decrease of odors and insect activity.

    If you feel that the animal feces is not being properly removed from your neighbor’s yard you may contact Dispatch at 322-DOGS (3647) or file a complaint online and request an officer respond to speak to the animal owner. This ordinance is in effect 24 hours a day in Washoe County. 

  • Is it ok to tether a dog up outside? If so, for how long?

    A dog can be legally tethered if:

    1. The tether is at least 12 feet long, and
    2. The dog has access to water and shelter, and
    3. The dog is not wearing a pinch, prong or choke collar, and
    4. The dog is not tethered for more than 14 hours in a 24 hour period, and
    5. The dog is tethered in such a way as to prevent it from becoming entangled and injured.

    If you are concerned that a pet is being illegally tethered report it by calling Animal Services dispatch at 775-322-3647. 

Licensing and Microchipping

  • Why do I need a license for my dog?

    Washoe County Code 55.340 requires that all dog 4 months and older have a license. Failure to have a current dog license with Washoe County Regional Animal Services may result in a civil fine from $100 - $400 and/or a criminal citation. Dog licensing allows Animal Services to track pet ownership, rabies vaccination status, and estimate the number of pets in the area. Licenses are required to be renewed every year. You can license your dog here.

  • Does my cat need to be licensed?

    Currently, cats do not need to be licensed, however, they are required to have a current rabies vaccination. We strongly recommend that you get your cats microchipped and register the microchip with Animal Services. This will help us reunite your cat with you in the event it gets brought to the shelter. If you are a Washoe County resident, we can microchip your pets for free anytime during our business hours.

  • What is the difference between a dog license and the tag I get at the vet or elsewhere?

    A dog license is provided by your local animal control authority. In Washoe County, Washoe County Regional Animal Services supplies dog licenses as required for all dogs four months and older, living in the congested areas of Washoe County. The tags that come from your vet or adoption agencies are rabies or ID tags only and are not to be confused with a license. Click here to learn more.

  • How do I license my dog?

    You can license your dog online, by mail, or in-person by coming into the shelter during open hours. A current rabies certificate is required to license your dog. Please see our licensing page for more information.

  • My dog never leaves the house. Do I still need to license?

    Even if your dog never leaves the house, it must still have a dog license. In addition to helping reunite you with your pet if you ever become separated due to unforeseen circumstances (disaster, break-in, hospitalization etc.) licenses also confirm that your pet is current on their required rabies vaccination. The rabies virus, which can be carried by wild animals such as bats, raccoons, skunks etc., can be transmitted to your dog if they are not properly vaccinated. 

  • What is a microchip and how do they work?

    A microchip is a small device implanted just under the skin between the shoulder blades of an animal that is used for permanent identification.  The microchip is about the size of a grain of rice, can be quickly inserted with a needle, and can be read by a microchip scanner. Each microchip contains a series of unique numbers similar to a vehicle VIN number. Most veterinarians and animal shelters have microchip scanners that can be used to read the chip number. You can also find public use microchip scanners located inside every Pet Station Store in Washoe County. To find the nearest public microchip scanning station go to 

    The microchip is not a GPS locating device for your animal.  The microchip cannot tell us where your animal is located

    We can determine ownership and address of each animal by entering the microchip number into our system. The number should correspond to the pet owners contact information in our database. Using the information on a microchip to immediately contact the owner helps our officers return many animals directly home, without coming to the shelter. Collars and tags are great forms of pet identification but they can be taken off or fall off, significantly reducing the chances that we will be able to reunite a pet with their family.

    Microchips are a form of permanent identification. The procedure is quick and safe, similar to a routine vaccine. If you are a Washoe County resident you can bring your pet to our facility anytime during business hours for a free microchip! Learn more about microchips and how they work.

    Watch this short video to see the process for implanting a microchip  

  • Someone gave me their pet and it is microchipped. How do I transfer ownership?

    Animal Services maintains a database with local microchip numbers and corresponding owner information. To change the owner information in the local database, the previous owner of the pet needs to complete a transfer of ownership form. The completed form will need to be submitted to Animal Services either by the former owner or the new owner. The new owner will then need to contact WCRAS to update the local registry. If the new pet is a dog and the new owner lives in a congested area, a dog license will need to be purchased. Licenses do not transfer from one owner to another.

    In order to update the national registry for a microchip, contact the microchip company for instructions on updating the transfer of ownership.  If you do not know what microchip company, click here and enter the microchip number to discover the microchip company.

    If you are unsure if your animal is microchipped or what the microchip number is you can come to Animal Services Monday-Friday between 8-5, or Saturdays from 9am-3pm and we can scan the pet to get the number.

  • How do I submit a picture of my pet for the license or microchip?

    To add a picture of your pet to their licensing profile, login to your pet license account at click on the name of the pet, then click the button with a picture of a camera with a plus sign to select the photo you would like to upload. Should your pet become lost, you can quickly report the pet missing with Docupet which will alert pet owners in the area to keep an eye out for your pet.

  • Can I register my pet's microchip with WCRAS?

    Animal Services keeps a local database of microchipped pets in order to allow our staff to contact the owner and quickly get pets home. This service is free and only takes a minute to setup. Simply send an email to with your name and contact information and complete pet description (breed, color, sex, age, and (optional) photo) and we will add the microchip to our local database.

  • How do I update information for my licensed/microchipped pet?

    You can quickly and easily update your contact, owner, or pet information through our online licensing Docupet at!

    Alternatively, you can email with the new information or you can call or come into the shelter during open hours to update the information.

Pet Resources

Shelter Animals

  • Can I adopt a pet from WCRAS?

    Animal Services does not provide pet adoption services. WCRAS and Nevada Humane Society (NHS) are partnering agencies that provide separate services to the community.  Through the partnership, NHS facilitates the adoption process for the majority of the unclaimed animals that come into our facility.  In addition, WCRAS works with N. Nevada SPCA as well as a multitude of rescue groups to place the remaining adoptable animals.

    For more information on adopting a pet through the Nevada Humane Society, please visit the Nevada Humane Society website.

    Additional animal adoptions websites: SPCAPet Network, Res-Que, Boxers and Buddies

  • Does WCRAS euthanize animals upon request of the owner?

    Washoe County Regional Animal Services recommends pets be taken to their veterinarian for these services, however, we recognize that in times of hardship this may not be possible.

    Therefore, WCRAS will accept euthanasia requests in hardship situations with the understanding that our rescue partners, including veterinary staff, will be consulted in order to determine the best outcome for the animal.

    If our rescue partners, such as Nevada Humane Society, determine the animal can be treated and adopted out to a new home WCRAS will release the animal to the rescue group for continued care and adoption.

    If it is your determination that the only outcome for your pet is euthanasia, then you must take your pet to your veterinarian.

  • How do I find my missing pet?

    We have complied a list of helpful steps to take if you have lost your pet. You can view the full list here: Lost a pet

    In addition to filing a lost report with Animal Services and with your microchip company, you can view every stray pet that is brought to the shelter or reported as found by the public online on our found animals page. This page is updated every 30 minutes and includes pets that are on our officer's trucks.  

    Sometimes it can be hard to identify your pet from just a picture online, in this case you may also want to visit the shelter to view the stray pets in person. The shelter is located at 2825 Longley Lane Suite A and is open from 8am to 5pm Monday through Friday. It is also open on Saturdays from 11am to 3pm. THe shelter is closed on holidays.

  • How much does it cost to get my pet out of the shelter?

    When an animal enters our shelter, our staff immediately begin providing care and treatment if necessary. The fees associated with redeeming your animal vary depending factors such as the license status and length of time the animal was in our care.

    Click here to review our fee schedule. 

  • What happens if a pet is not claimed by its owner?

    WCRAS holds each stray animal for five days before the pet becomes available for transfer.  WCRAS partners with Nevada Humane Society, SPCA of Northern Nevada, as well as a variety of other approved rescue groups to transfer unclaimed animals for continued care and help finding a happy home. 


  • What can I do about pigeons roosting and defecating on my property?

    Regional Animal Services receives many calls each year regarding pigeons roosting or nesting in homes or defecating on property. A pigeon is an unregulated wild animal and therefore is outside the scope of authority of Animal Services.

    There are several commercial deterrents that can be utilized to discourage pigeons from calling your property their home. You can contact a local pest control company or a home improvement store for assistance with these deterrents.

    However, a simple way to keep pigeons from roosting or nesting on your property is to hang a reflective object (like a CD) in the area you are having problems.  This inexpensive item could save you a lot of heartache.

  • Can WCRAS help with wild horse issues?

    The Virginia Range Horses are horses that have been turned loose by their owner or horses that have migrated from other areas.

    These horses are under the jurisdiction of the Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDA).  WCRAS may assist NDA with an injured horse on a roadway, however all other welfare concerns for these horses fall under NDA's purview and additional information can be found on their website here:

    Wild horse and burro programs are organized and managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and there are several herd management areas in Nevada.  More information can be found here:

    Persons with wild horse questions can get more information here or call the horse hotline at (775) 353-3608 or email

  • What can I do about local wildlife?

    Wildlife exist in our area and, generally, we can coexist peacefully with the proper preparation and knowledge. Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) has jurisdiction over wildlife in our area. NDOW has safety and prevention tips as well as well as species of wildlife indigenous to our area and informative tips on their website.

    For additional questions on wildlife please contact the Nevada Department of Wildlife.