This list is a selection of California’s animal-related laws most commonly seen by our officers. For questions or suspect animal cruelty or abuse, please contact San Francisco Animal Care & Control at (415) 554-6364.

For City laws related to animals, see San Francisco Municipal Codes.

  • You must provide food, water, shelter, and proper veterinary medical care for your animal. (California Penal Code Sections 597(b) and 597(f)) (External Link)
  • You cannot chain, tether, or tie out your dog to a stationary object. The law provides some exceptions such as permitting a “running line, trolley or pulley system” so long as the dog is not wearing a prong collar or choke chain. Violation of the law is an infraction or misdemeanor and may lead to fines of $250 to $1,000 and possible incarceration for up to six months. The animal must be able to reach food, water and shelter. Food and water containers must not be able to be tipped over. (Health and safety Code 122335) (External Link)
  • It is prohibited to leave an animal in an unattended motor vehicle under “circumstances that could reasonably be expected to cause suffering, disability, or death to the animal.” Even on a cool day, an animal left in a vehicle in the sun could be subjected to extreme temperatures. (California Penal Code Section 597.7) (External Link)
  • Animals carried in the back of pick-up trucks must be safely enclosed within a secured cage, cross tether, harness or other device that will prevent the animal from falling, jumping or being thrown from the truck in an accident. (California Vehicle Code Section 23117) (External Link)
  • It is a crime in the state of California to abandon any animal. If you are unable to find a home for your animal and you reside within San Francisco, please surrender your animal to ACC. If you reside outside of San Francsico City & County, please contact your local humane society or your local animal control facility for assistance. (California Penal Code Section 597s) (External Link)
  • Maliciously neglecting, harming, killing or poisoning an animal can be charged as a felony and may carry a penalty of one year or more in state prison and/or a $20,000 fine. (California Penal Code Section 597(a)) (External Link)

How to Report Cruelty

To report animal neglect or abuse, call Animal Care and Control at (415) 554-6364 (main office). All reports are confidential. If you see a loose animal, a vicious animal, or an injured domestic animal on the side of the road, please call the ACC dispatch number at (415) 554-9400.

Animal cruelty does not include barking dogs, disruptive cats or loose animals. If you have a problem with a loud animal, call your local police agency at (415) 553-0123.


Related Links

Report Cruelty, Neglect, or Injury
The SF Commission of Animal Control & Welfare (External Link)
San Francisco Municipal Codes
Visiting State Parks with Your Dog (External Link)
California Fish & Wildlife Code  (External Link)
Commercial Dog Walkers