Dog ownership laws.

Pet ownership is a responsibility that shouldn’t be taken lightly, and it’s important for all pet parents to understand how local ordinances can impact the lives they share with their pets. And while we’re accustomed to fielding questions every day about pet health and wellness, we do get occasional queries about local pet laws. 

At Long Animal Hospital and Emergency Center, we want to keep all pets and their families healthy and safe, so we’ve provided answers to some of the most common questions we get asked about North Carolina pet laws.

Are Pets Considered Property in North Carolina?

Yes. You may treat your pet like a child, but to the courts, your pet is no different from your coffee maker or TV. In divorce cases, a pet becomes part of the negotiations surrounding property division if the couple can’t reach a “custody” agreement on their own. 

Pet Licenses

Dogs, cats, and ferrets at least four months old must have a valid license—which requires proof of rabies vaccination. One-year and three-year licenses are available. The fee is nominal ($10 annually for a sterile animal), and there are exemptions for senior citizens, those who need assistance animals, and others.

Leash Laws

Charlotte has strict leash laws that apply to all animals except cats. Dogs going for walks and visiting public parks must be kept on a leash at all times (except in designated off-leash areas within dog parks). Fines for unleashed dogs range from $50 (for a first violation) all the way up to $500. 

Animal Cruelty Laws

Even the most responsible pet owners are sometimes tempted to leave a pet in a parked car for “just a few minutes.” DON’T DO IT. 

Pet Burial Laws

When your pet has reached end of life, you may bury your pet “as long as it is buried at least 3 feet beneath the surface of the ground and not closer than 300 feet to any flowing stream or public body of water,” according to Charlotte’s ordinance. Large animals must be buried at least 4 feet below the surface. You must bury your pet within 24 hours of learning of its passing.

Pet Poop Laws

Last but certainly not least … Charlotte’s Nuisance Animal Ordinance cites as unlawful “Failing to remove feces deposited by a dog on any public street, sidewalk, gutter, park, or other publicly owned or private property unless the owner of the property has given permission allowing such use of the property.” Pet poop laws are in place to protect people from the harmful microorganisms contained in dog waste. So, scoop the poop, Charlotte!

To keep your pets and the people around you safe, follow North Carolina pet laws, and stay up-to-date with your pet’s vaccinations. Please contact us to schedule a visit or if you have any questions.