Before You Get A Pet

Many well-meaning people take on pets, only to learn later, they are not prepared to care for the pet properly. Be sure to do your research before bringing home a new pet. Consider your lifestyle, finances, and living situation before selecting your pet. For example, are you able to train a high-energy, large breed puppy? Being a responsible pet owner also means educating your children and other family members about how to properly care for a pet. State and local laws impose specific requirements on pet owners designed to protect the safety of animals and the communities they live in. Some of these are listed below.

Vaccinations & Licenses

(A.R.S. § 11-1108, 11-1010) In Maricopa County, all dogs older than three months are required to have a current vaccination for rabies and a license. Vaccinations can be administered by your veterinarian or at an Animal Care Center operated by Maricopa County Animal Care and Control. Licenses must be worn on a dog collar and may be obtained online or by mail from MCACC. Visit or call 602-506-PETS (7387) for more information.

Leash Law

(A.R.S. § 11-1012) You are not permitted to allow your dog to run freely outside your property at any time unless he or she is in a designated off-leash area in a dog park. The leash law is designed not only to protect your dog from running away or getting hit by a car but also to protect members of the community.

Care, Feeding & Confinement

Pet owners are legally required to provide the basic needs of life for their pets, including food, water and shelter from extreme weather conditions. This is especially important in the desert during the summer months with prolonged triple-digit temperatures. Leaving a pet in a hot, parked car – even with the windows open – can not only be fatal but is also illegal. Animals must also be provided with proper medical care and a clean, healthful environment free from accumulated feces.

Keep Pets Safe During Monsoon Season

The thunder and winds of Arizona’s summer monsoons can easily frighten your pet and sometimes cause dogs to try and run away. Make sure you have a safe, windowless indoor space for your pets during heavy storms with comfy bedding, favorite toys and a litter box for cats. You can also drown out storm sounds with a radio, and distract an anxious pet with activity like playing fetch. Dogs with licenses and cats with ID tags or microchips can be more easily identified and reunited with their owners if they manage to run away.