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Animal Laws & Citations

dog with gavel in mouth

We enforce animal welfare laws and provide outreach and education in our Service Area to pet owners who want to provide better care for their pets. California State laws apply throughout the state and include animal abuse and neglect, animal bites and tethering. Local ordinances may vary and may include nuisance animal noise, loose animals and spaying or neutering. View San Bernardino County’s Animal Control laws and ordinances. If you are not in compliance with animal welfare laws, you may be cited and have to pay a fine. For your convenience, payments can be made online, by phone, by mail or in person.

For the safety of people and pets, please do your part of being a responsible pet owner by following animal welfare laws and ordinances.

Animal Laws

Abuse & Neglect

Animal cruelty is a serious crime and is a violation of California Penal Code 597. It is against the law to intentionally hurt, kill, overwork, deprive an animal of necessary medical care, food and water, fight animals against other animals or leave an animal inside an unattended car, etc.

Animal Bites

Animal bites are required to be reported and should be reported to the Animal Control Agency where the bite occurred.

If it occurred in our service area, call us and report the information or fill out the Bite Report Form and fax it to us.

For other areas in San Bernardino County, please contact the animal control agency responsible for that service area. State laws require all animals involved in a bite or scratch on a human to be quarantined.

A dog that bites a person, will be placed under quarantine for 10 days to be observed for signs of rabies. This can be done at home if authorities are satisfied with the containment area or at the animal shelter. After 10 days, if the dog appears to be healthy, it will be released from quarantine. This is a safety precaution to contain possible rabies outbreaks; rabies is a serious disease that can be fatal to animals and humans.

Animal Noise

Nuisance Animal Noise (barking dogs, crowing roosters, squawking parrots, etc.) can be disrupting. County Code 32.0119 prohibits habitual, annoying animal noise from residential properties.

For City of Yucaipa residents, Yucaipa Municipal Code 6.04.195 prohibits animals or fowl which habitually make noise.

Noise Complaint

Call us and report the issue. This step is kept confidential. Our helpful staff will explain and walk you through the entire process.  Animal Care staff will notify the animal owner in person and/or in writing and provide them with a Courtesy Abatement Letter. The animal owner will have 2 weeks to abate the noise.

Left in Vehicles

California Penal Code 597.7 provides some legal protections for good Samaritans who break car windows to help an animal that is in imminent danger of suffering harm.

Loose Animals

Owners of loose animals are in violation of County Code 32.0108. Dogs off of their property must be restrained by a leash or enclosed in a vehicle, cage, or similar enclosure. If an animal is running loose or unrestrained, it may be impounded and will require paying a reclaiming fee.


All dogs over 4 months old are required to be vaccinated against rabies per County Code 32.0207. Rabies vaccines must be administered by a licensed veterinarian and the 1st dose is valid for 1 year and booster doses are valid for 3 years.

Service Animals

Service animals might have access to buildings and vehicles where animals are normally excluded. Service dogs are still required to be licensed and vaccinated for rabies. They must be restrained like any other dogs when off of their property. Refer to Loose Animals tab above. Please see the links below for more information.

Service Animals and the Americans with Disability Act

Service Animals and Fair Housing in California


Pit Bulls and Pit Bull mixed dogs over the age of 4 months must be spayed or neutered per County Code 32.1501.

Dogs older than 4 months must be spayed or neutered if their owner has violated State laws or County Codes regarding animals, per County Code 32.1502.


Owners that tie or restrain a dog to a fixed object like a tree, fence, or other stationary object for longer than 3 hours in a 24 hour period are in violation of the California Tethering Law. However, owners can use a running line or trolley system to secure a dog. A trolley system allows a dog to move more freely by attaching it to a line that is attached to another line.


Offense NumberCitation Fee
1st Offense$100
2nd Offense$200
3rd Offense$500

We enforce State laws and County codes through the use of criminal filings, criminal citations, and administrative citations. San Bernardino County Code Section 11.0208 allows for issuing of citations for code violations.

These penalties are cumulative and citations may be issued each day the violation exists.

Failure to Pay

Payment must be received within 30 calendar days or an additional late fee of 50% of the fee will be added to the amount and must be received within 60 days from the date the citation was issued. An additional 50% of the base administrative penalty will be added thereafter.

Failure to Pay & Correct Violations

Failure to pay the citation within the time specified on the citation or on the invoice will result in San Bernardino County pursuing legal remedies to collect the unpaid penalties.

Payment of the citation does not relieve the responsibility to correct the violation and shall not bar further enforcement by the County.

Right of Appeal

A request to appeal a citation must be received within 20 calendar days from the date of being issued a citation. Submit a Notice of Appeal along with the total amount of the citation penalty.

Failure to pay the total amount of the citation penalty and complete the Notice of Appeal shall render the appeal incomplete and you will be responsible for the total amount of the penalty.

If you are unable to pay the penalty, you may request a Hardship Waiver at the time of filing the Notice of Appeal. This must be received within 20 calendar days of being issued a citation.

Once we process your request for an appeal, you will be given a hearing date.

Note: At the hearing, the County will seek recovery of the administrative citation penalty and administrative costs as provided by the San Bernardino County Code.

Payment Methods

Payment must be made within 30 calendar days.

How Many Pets Can I Own?

Generally, residential areas of the unincorporated parts of the County allow 2 cats and/or 2 dogs, but it depends on your property’s zoning. Contact Land Use Services to determine your zoning.

You can have a combination of cats and/or dogs depending on lot size as follows:

  • 2 to 5 depending on lot size.
    • Less than 7200 sq. ft. lot = 2
    • More than 7200 sq. ft. = 3
    • 10,000 sq. ft. = 4
    • 20,000 sq. ft. = 5

City of Big Bear Lake Website

Big Bear Lake City Ordinances

You can have a combination of 2-5 dogs, cats, and/or pot-bellied pigs depending on lot size as follows:

  • Less than 7,200 sq. ft. lot = 2
  • More than 7,200 sq. ft. = 3 
  • 10,000 sq. ft. lot = 4
  • 20,000 sq. ft. lot = 5. Requires a Special Use Permit (SUP) and a Public Health permit.

Yucaipa City Website

City of Yucaipa Municipal Code

You can have a combination of cats and or dogs depending on lot size as follows:

  • Less than 20,000 sq. ft. lot = 4
  • Greater than 20,000 sq. ft. = 8

City of Highland Website

City of Highland Municipal Code

Generally, residential areas of the unincorporated parts of the County allow 2 cats and/or 2 dogs, but it depends on your property’s zoning. Contact Land Use Services to determine your zoning.

Unincorporated County Areas Code (including West End residents)

Owner carrying her pet in her arms