Animal Services

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 are 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.

    To read the public service announcement, click here


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 certain leash regulation for different parks at different times. Per the BLM Nevada State Office, it is best to contact the park that you plan to go to about dog leashing before you go. Some park do have coyote traps out for wildlife regulation at different times. 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?

    It is the position of Washoe County that Trap, Neuter, Return, Monitor (TNRM) is the preferred method of feral cat management.  It is the policy 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 B Longley Lane.

    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     Email:

  • 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 congested areas of Washoe County, not more than three 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?

    WCRAS does not provide this type of service. If you need to surrender your pet, please contact the Nevada Humane Society at 775-856-2000 or SPCA 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:

    o             The tether is at least 12 feet long

    o             The dog has access to water and shelter

    o             The dog is not wearing a pinch, prong or choke collar

    o             The dog is not tethered for more than 14 hours in a 24 hour period

    o             The dog is tethered in such a way as to prevent it from becoming entangled and injured

Licensing and Microchipping

  • Why do I need a license for my dog?

    It is required by Washoe County Code 55.340. Failure to have a current dog license may result in a civil fine from $100 - $400 and/or a criminal citation. Dog license revenue helps to provide care and housing for Washoe County pets as well as special community programs that help local pets. You can license here.

  • Does my cat need to be licensed?

    Currently cats do not need to be licensed but they should be microchipped and the microchip registered with Animal Services. This will help the cat get home in the event it gets brought to the shelter. WCRAS microchips pets owned by Washoe County residents for free.

  • 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 WCRAS or your local animal control authority.  In Washoe County, WCRAS supplies dog licenses as required for all dogs over four months of ages, 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 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. At some point and time your dog may accidentally get out or there may be a disaster and you get separated from your dog. Having your dog licensed with WCRAS helps Animal Control Officers get your dog back to you.

  • What is a microchip and how do they work?

    A microchip is a small device implanted between the shoulder blades of an animal that is used for permanent identification.  The microchip is about the size of a grain of rice 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. 

    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.  This helps us return many animals in the field because we are able to find out who the owner is right away, and let the owner know that their pet has been found.  Collars and tags can be taken off or fall off, making it almost impossible for us to identify correct ownership.  Microchips are a form of permanent identification. The procedure is quick and safe, similar to a routine vaccine.  Learn more about microchips and how they work.


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

    WCRAS database will track the pet information locally and, in order to update the owner information, the previous owner of the pet needs to complete a transfer of ownership form. 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 and we can scan the pet to get the number.

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

    We can now add a picture of your dog in our licensing database so that it will show up on your license certificate. We can also add a picture of your pet to their microchip number. All you need to do is email a jpeg picture to Enter the license tag or microchip number in the subject line and include the name of your pet as well as your contact information so we can match the picture to the pet. Should your pet become lost, we can quickly upload a picture to our website when you contact us.
  • Can I register my pet's microchip with WCRAS?

    WCRAS 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. Just email us at with your name and contact information and complete pet description (breed, color, sex and age) and we will register the microchip with us. You can also attach a picture to go with the registration.

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

    To update any contact, owner or pet information, you can email with the new information. You can also call or come into the shelter during open hours to update the information. Our online licensing service is not able to update any information unless you are renewing a dog license so it is always best to email or phone the shelter to do this.

Pet Resources

Shelter Animals

  • Can I adopt a pet from WCRAS?

    WCRAS and Nevada Humane Society (NHS) are partnering agencies that provide respective services to the community.  Through the partnership, NHS facilitates adoptions of the majority of the un-claimed 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

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

  • How do I find my missing pet?

    You can come into the shelter or look online to see if your pet is here. The shelter is open from 8am to 5pm Monday through Friday except for holidays. It is also open on Saturdays from 11am to 3pm. Our online service is updated every thirty minutes and shows all live animals located at the shelter or that have been reported found.

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

    When an animal enters the shelter system, our staff will immediately begin providing care and treatment if necessary.  The fees associated with redeeming your animal varies depending variable 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 it becomes available for transfer.  WCRAS partners with Nevada Humane Society, Northern Nevada SPCA, as well as a variety of other approved rescue groups to transfer adoptable animals into their care. 


  • 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 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 most of the time, we can coexist peacefully with the proper preparation and knowledge. Nevada Department of Wildlife has safety and prevention tips as well as well as species of wildlife indigenous to our area and informative tips on their website.

Call 311 to find resources, ask questions, and utilize Washoe County services. Learn More »
Call 311 to find resources, ask questions, and utilize Washoe County services. Learn More »