Jefferson County Seal
Jefferson County,
Est. 1818
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Rules of Pet Ownership

Basic Rules of Pet Ownership in Jefferson County brochure 


County Animal Licenses Required


Residents of unincorporated Jefferson County are required to have all owned dogs and cats licensed with the Division of Animal Control, annually or every three years as determined by the type of rabies vaccination the animal has received. This license should be displayed on the dog’s collar at all times.


The rabies vaccination must be administered by a licensed practicing veterinarian, who will issue a Rabies Vaccination Certificate, as proof that animal has a current rabies vaccine. The County Animal License application can be obtained from a veterinarian or from the Animal Control Center. The application must be completed and submitted to Animal Control along with the appropriate licensing fee and a copy of the Rabies Vaccination Certificate.  


An County Animal License application is also available for printing here.  


Rabies Vaccination Required  


Owners of all dogs, cats and ferrets must have these pets vaccinated against rabies with either the one-year vaccination or the three-year vaccination, and this vaccination must be registered with the Division of Animal Control. The rabies vaccination tag should be displayed on the dog’s collar at all times.


Dogs and Cats are Prohibited from Running at Large (Leash Law)


Jefferson County ordinances prohibit dog and cat owners, harborers or keepers from allowing their animals from running at large. Running at large means allowing the animal to free-roam, without physical restraint by its owner, when it is off of the owner, harborer or keeper's property. Missouri state law requires animal owners to provide “adequate control” over their animals to ensure the animal cannot pose a threat to a person, another animal, or itself; or cause damage to personal property. Animals allowed to run at large are not “adequately controlled,” which is a violation of county ordinance and state law.


Jefferson County also has a “leash law” that requires that dogs and cats, when off of the property of their owners, must be under the physical restraint of a leash, tether, leader or other form of physical restraining device.


Animal Owners must provide Adequate Care and Control for their Animals  


Jefferson County requires that pet owners provide adequate treatment of their animals. All animal owners, harborers or keepers, must provide adequate care and control of their animals. Harborers are people who provide food, water or shelter for animals not their own, and keepers are people who have custodial responsibility for someone else’s animal.


Adequate Care includes providing wholesome, species and age appropriate food for an animal; clean, fresh water for an animal; adequate shelter to keep the animal protected from the elements; and any such medical attention as may be necessary to ensure the health and welfare of the animal.


Adequate Shelter must be species appropriate and large enough for the animal to stand up with at least six inches of space above its head and turn around inside the shelter. Shelters must be constructed in such a manner as to provide four walls, a roof, and floor, to protect the animal from the elements.


Owners must Not Allow their Animals to Bite Another Animal or Person 


Animal owners must not allow their animals to attack, and cause injury to another animal or to a human. When an animal attacks and bites another animal, it is causing damage to personal property. When an animal attacks and bites a human being, it is exposing the human to disease and injury. Animal owners can be legally responsible for damages to personal property or for injuries to a human being.