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Dog Laws & Licenses

Licensing your dog

Ohio Revised Code Section 955.01, 955.21

All dogs three months of age and older must be licensed annually by January 31. When you acquire a new dog, you must license it immediately. Dogs in Franklin County must be immunized against rabies by a licensed veterinarian before a license can be purchased.

The maximum penalties for violations of this section are a $150 fine on the first offense, and a $250 fine and 30 days imprisonment for subsequent offenses.

Dog License Cost & Information

Dog license pricing information is available on the Franklin County Auditor Dog License site.

Where to buy your dog license

You may purchase your dog license online or in person at the Franklin County Dog Shelter, 4340 Tamarack Blvd., or at any of these other locations:

  • Franklin County Auditor
    373 S. High St. 21st floor
    Monday-Friday 8am-5pm
    525-3260
  • Capital Area Humane Society
    3015 Scioto Darby Executive Ct., Hilliard
    Monday-Friday 2pm-7pm; Saturday & Sunday 1pm-5pm
    777-7387
  • Pet Supplies Plus
    Monday-Saturday 9am-9pm; Sunday 10am-6pm
    4886 Morse Rd. - 775-9944
    1380 W. Lane Ave. - 487-1274
    8170 E. Broad St., Reynoldsburg - 892-2300

Displaying a dog license

Ohio Revised Code Section 955.10

The current year's license tag must be kept displayed on a dog's collar or harness at all times. Ohio law permits Animal Control Officers to impound dogs that are not wearing a license, even from the dog owner's yard. The maximum penalty for a violation of this section is a $150 fine.

Transferring a dog license

Ohio Revised Code Section 955.11

If you sell or give away your dog, you are required to legally transfer the license to the new owner. Failure to transfer the license for a dog you no longer own is minor misdemeanor, with a fine of up to $150.

Confining your dog

Ohio Revised Code Section 955.22C

All dogs regardless of age must be kept confined on the premises of the owner, keeper or harborer at all times. Acceptable methods of confinement include a fence, a tethering device, a dog pen, inside a house or garage, or under adequate supervision. If you are walking your dog off of your property, you must maintain reasonable control over your dog so that it doesn't run away (the best way to do this is to keep the dog on a leash). The maximum penalties for violations of this section are a $150 fine on the first offense, and a $250 fine and 30 days imprisonment for subsequent offenses.

If your dog is designated a dangerous or vicious dog, see Dangerous Dog Laws for additional confinement requirements.

Immunizing your dog against rabies

Ohio Revised Code Section 955.39

All dogs in Franklin County over three months of age must be currently immunized against rabies by a licensed Veterinarian. This is a requirement of the Franklin County Boards of Health. The maximum penalty for a violation of this section is a $150 fine, and a $250 fine and 30 days imprisonment for subsequent offenses.

Classification of nuisance dangerous, and vicious dogs

Effective May 22, 2012, the state of Ohio no longer defines a "breed of dog commonly known as a pit bull" as a vicious dog. However, any dog may be designated as vicious, dangerous or a nuisance based on its actions. Any law enforcement officer, dog warden or animal control officer may make this designation.

Nuisance Dog

Ohio Revised Code Section 955.11

Any dog that without provocation has approached a person in a menacing fashion or in an apparent attitude of attack while off the owner, keeper, or harborer's property.

Without provocation means that the dog was not teased, tormented or abused by a person; or that the dog was not coming to the aid or defense of a person who was not engaged in illegal or criminal activity, and who was not using the dog as a means of carrying out such activity.

Menacing fashion means that the dog would cause any person being chased or approached to reasonably believe that the dog will cause physical injury to the person.

The penalty for failing to properly confine a Nuisance Dog is a minor misdemeanor, and carries a fine of up to $150. Subsequent offenses are a fourth degree misdemeanor and carry a fine of up to $250 and 30 days imprisonment. If the same dog has been convicted of three or more Nuisance violations, the designation is elevated to Dangerous Dog.

Dangerous Dog

Ohio Revised Code Section 955.11

Any dog that without provocation has subject to division (A)(1)(b) of section 955.11 done any of the following while on or off the owner, keeper or harborer's property.

  • Caused injury to a person, other than killing or seriously injuring a person
  • Killed another dog
  • Been the subject of a third or subsequent violation of 955.22C

The penalty for failing to properly confine and control a Dangerous Dog is a fourth degree misdemeanor, and carries a fine of up to $250 and 30 days imprisonment. Subsequent offenses are considered a third degree misdemeanor and carry a fine of up to $500 and 60 days imprisonment.

Vicious Dog

Ohio Revised Code Section 955.11

Any dog that has seriously injured or killed a person while on or off the owner, keeper or harborer's property.

  • Police dogs that kill or seriously injure a person while being used to assist law enforcement officers in the performance of their duties are excluded.
  • A dog that kills or seriously injures a person while that person is committing or attempting to commit a trespass or other criminal offense on the property of the owner, harboror or keeper of the dog is excluded.

The penalty for failing to properly confine and control a Vicious Dog is a first degree misdemeanor, and carries a fine of up to $1,000 and 180 days imprisonment. If a person is killed, the charge is a fourth degree felony with a maximum fine of $5,000 and 18 months imprisonment.

Serious injury means any of the following:

  • Any physical harm that carries a substantial risk of death.
  • Any physical harm that involves a permanent incapacity, either partial or total; or a temporary substantial incapacity.
  • Any physical harm that involves a permanent disfigurement, or a temporary serious disfigurment.
  • Any physical harm that involves acute pain of a duration that results in substantial suffering, or any degree of prolonged or intractable pain.

Requirements for dangerous or vicious dogs

Confining dangerous dogs

Ohio Revised Code Section 955.22C, D

Dogs that are considered dangerous or vicious must be confined on the owner's property by means of a locked fenced yard, a locked dog pen that has a top, or some other locked enclosure that has a top (such as a house).

The penalty for a violation of this section is a fourth degree misdemeanor on a first offense with a $250 maximum fine and 30 days imprisonment. Each subsequent offense is a third degree misdemeanor with a fine of up to $500 and 60 days imprisonment.

Registering and Insuring Dangerous Dogs

Ohio Revised Code Section 955.22E(1)(2)

In addition to properly confining your dog, you are also required to obtain a dangerous dog tag from the county auditor's office within 30 days of the final designation, and to display it on your dog's collar at all times. The dangerous dog tag is an additional $50 annual fee, payable to the county auditor in addition to the standard annual dog license. Contact the Franklin County Auditor's Office at 525-3260 for additional requirements to register a dangerous dog.

The penalty for failure to display a dangerous dog tag is a fourth degree misdemeanor on a first offense with a $250 maximum fine and 30 days imprisonment.

Owners of dogs that are designated as vicious must maintain at least $100,000 of liability insurance coverage on these animals. Owners of dangerous dogs may also be required to maintain at least $100,000 of liability insurance coverage if ordered to do so by the court.

The penalty for failure to insure a dangerous dog tag is a minor misdemeanor with a $150 maximum fine.

If you have any questions regarding these laws, or would like to report someone who is in violation of these laws, please contact a Field Supervisor at the Department of Animal Care & Control at (614) 525-3400.

Marilyn Brown President
Paula Brooks
John O'Grady