Below is a summary of the key provisions of Chapter 4 of the Broward County Code, the Broward County Animal Care Ordinance.

Residents interested in reviewing the laws and regulations governing animal care in Broward County should also check with their city Code Enforcement Department. Residential communities that are governed by a homeowners or condominium association may also have by-laws governing pet ownership.


Animals "At Large" – The Leash Law: Section 4-3 

The term “at large” means that your pet is not confined or somehow controlled.

It is against the law for any person to permit their dog to be at large. This means that the dog must be under the direct, physical control of a person by means of one of the following:

  • Leash
  • Cord
  • Chain
  • Confined to the property of its owner by means of a fence

It is against the law to tie, chain or tether a dog so that it has access to public property or the property of another person.

There is no leash law for cats because they are considered free-roaming animals. However, a property owner does have the legal right to humanely trap or catch any nuisance cats on their property.

Pets found to be “at large” may be impounded at the Broward County Animal Care shelter.


Nuisance Animals: Section 4-4

A property owner has the right to humanely catch or trap a nuisance cat or dog on their property and bring that animal to Broward County Animal Care and Adoption. A property owner also has the right to contact Broward County Animal Care and Adoption to remove the animal from their property.


Impoundment: Section 4-5 

The word “impoundment” means that your cat or dog has been picked up a Broward County Animal Care Officer or law enforcement officer and has been brought to one of the Broward County Animal Care and Adoption Centers, located in Fort Lauderdale or Pompano Beach.

When a cat or dog is impounded without identification (including a County license, tattoo, ID tag or microchip), Broward County Animal Care will hold the animal for at least three days (72 hours), not including legal holidays. During this holding period, Animal Care will make every effort to determine the pet’s owner and notify them.

When a cat or dog is impounded with identification, Animal Care will hold the cat or dog for at least five days (120 hours), not including legal holidays. During this holding period, Animal Care will make every effort to notify the owner so they can pick up their cat or dog at the shelter.

In all cases, the pet owner has the primary responsibility for locating an impounded pet.


Confinement During Heat: Section 4-6

A pet owner must confine an unspayed (unsterilized) female cat or dog that is in heat (estrus) in a house, building or secure enclosure so that a male cat or dog cannot gain access.


Permitting an Animal to Commit a Nuisance: Section 4-8

It is against the law for any person to allow a cat or dog to defecate (go to the bathroom) at any of the following places:

  • the sidewalk of any public street, park, beach or school ground or other designated area
  • any private property not belonging to the pet owner, unless the person makes an immediate effort to remove any feces/mess left by the pet
  • any swale or street right-of-way that deposits water to a canal, lake or other water way unless the person makes an immediate effort to remove any feces/mess left by the pet

Further, a pet owner cannot leave a pet in unsanitary conditions that may cause offensive odors as this is dangerous to the pet and to public health.

It is also against the law for a cat or dog to be allowed to habitually bark, howl, whine or damage the property of another person.


Rabies Vaccination for Cats and Dogs: Section 4-10

All cats and dogs four months and older must be vaccinated against rabies every year by a licensed veterinarian (or every three years if a three-year rabies vaccination was given). The law provides exceptions when:

  • the cat or dog has been vaccinated against rabies within the past 12 months by a licensed veterinarian
  • a licensed veterinarian certifies in writing that a vaccination would be harmful to the pet’s health; in which case a Waiver Certificate should be issued by the veterinarian.

Broward County Registration for Cats and Dogs: Section 4-11

Every cat or dog in Broward County must have and wear a Broward County Rabies Registration Tag. This protects your pet in case it becomes lost or stolen. A pet owner must purchase the tag if the cat or dog is four months of age or older. Thereafter, the pet owner must purchase a new Broward County Rabies Registration Tag annually, on the anniversary of the pet’s rabies vaccination.  If your pet received a three-year rabies vaccination, the tag must still be renewed every year, on the anniversary of your pet's rabies vaccination.


Aggressive Dogs: Section 4-11.5

See Ordinance No. 2011-03


Dangerous Dogs: Section 4-12

See Ordinance No. 2011-03


Guard Dogs: Section 4-13

A guard dog is a dog trained to defend, patrol or protect the property of a commercial establishment. All service companies that train, sell, rent, lease or loan guard dogs to businesses are required to have their dogs specially registered with Broward County Animal Care as a guard dog.

There are also special requirements regarding the use, transporting and containment of such dogs. Please contact Broward County Animal Care and for more information and details at 954-359-1313.


Cruelty and Fighting Animals: Sections 4-17 and 4-20

It is against the law for any person to do any of the following to an animal:

  • Beat
  • Ill-Treat
  • Torment
  • Overload
  • Overwork
  • Abuse
  • Intentionally mutilate or inhumanely kill
  • Fight animals
  • Maintain a location where animals will fight
  • Neglect to provide fresh, clean water, shelter from elements and clean living conditions.
  • Neglect to provide a long enough tether (if tied) or large enough crate (if caged)
  • Neglect to provide proper veterinary care when necessary

Violation of Sections 4-17 and 4-20 are serious offenses. For such violations, a Broward County Animal Care Officer can seize the animal and issue a citation.


Abandonment of Animals: Section 4-19

It is against the law to willfully abandon an animal for more than a day (24 hours) without providing food, water, proper shelter and protection from the weather. It is also against the law not to provide an animal with necessary veterinary care.


Harboring of Stray Animals: Section 4-23

A person cannot harbor any stray animal unless it is reported to Animal Care within 48 hours of finding the animal. Once notified, Animal Care may take the animal and place it in the shelter. Refusal to surrender the animal may result in an additional violation of this ordinance.


Animals in Vehicles: Section 4-32

It is against the law to leave an animal in a motor vehicle without adequate ventilation or expose your pet to extremes of heat or cold.

An Animal Care Officer may remove and impound your pet from a vehicle if its safety appears to be in immediate danger. The Officer is authorized to take all steps reasonably necessary to remove your pet, including but not limited to, breaking into the vehicle. Neither the Officer nor the County will be liable for any damage to your vehicle in order to rescue your pet.

In addition, you cannot transport your pet in a motor vehicle unless it is safely enclosed within the vehicle. If you travel in an unenclosed vehicle (such as a convertible, pick-up, or flat-bed truck), you must confine your pet in a ventilated container, cage or other device that will prevent it from falling or jumping from the motor vehicle. The container or cage must be anchored to the vehicle to prevent it from falling out.