Boston Dog License Tips

During the first years of living with our dog in Boston, I am not sure why it took us so long to go get our dog’s Boston Dog License, but it did. It turns out we are not alone. It is estimated that out of an approximated 40,000 Boston dogs only 8,000 dogs have the cool little brass tags that serve as a Boston Dog License. I have a feeling more dogs would have the uniquely shaped dog tags if it were sold as a keepsake at one of the Boston pet boutiques.

However, you can and are required by law to licence your dog if living anywhere in Boston with a dog. Dog Licenses are valid from April 1st through March 31st. I am updating this article to reflect Boston dog licensing for 2013. You can go in person to Animal Control at Boston’s City Hall or the Animal Shelter in Roslindale.  The easiest way, might be by mail. I have created links to the forms you need for either method at the end of this article.

Why Get A Boston Dog License?

A Boston Dog License is required by law. If you get busted for having your dog off-leash, one of the first questions will be “Is your dog licensed?”. If not, you just reduced your chances of getting off with a warning. The fine for an unlicensed dog in Boston is $50. The cost of a dog license is $6 for neutered/spayed dogs, $17 for un-neutered or un-spayed dogs. Pit Bulls, used to have separate requirements and higher fees, but changes in Massachusetts law regarding Breed Specific Legislation has nullified those requirements.

I have heard other dog owners have told to leave official off-leash Boston dog parks until they get their dog or dogs licensed. One of the main requirements to have a Boston dog license is proof of a current rabies vaccination. If your dog were to bite someone or another dog, a current dog license will save an immediate trip to the hospital for rabies treatments to your already pissed off victim.

Animal control also uses the your contact information to help return lost dogs to their rightful owners. When you walk into Boston Animal Control there is a sign claiming an 80% higher return of licensed dogs. I know many of us keep a tag with contact information on our dog’s collars already. (Tip: put your cell phone number on the collar, you will be out looking for your lost dog, not at home waiting by the phone.)

The one complaint I have heard from other dog owners regarding the brass tag is the constant jingle of the tag. Many people add the license information to their other tags. We turned our Boston Dog License into a very cool keychain, which I always have on me when walking the dog. Regardless, our dog is licensed and we have proof.

How To Apply For a Boston Dog License

The easiest way to apply for a Boston Dog License is to just download the application and mail in copies of the required medical information with a pre-stamped return envelope. Boston Animal Control will send your Boston dog licence in the mail.

Otherwise, you can swing by Boston Animal Control on the eighth floor of Boston City Hall. The big ugly cement building next to the Government Center “T” stop (Only service dogs are allowed in Boston’s City Hall). Or  you can also swing by the Boston Animal Shelter in Roslindale. If you are going in person to get your dog license you can bring originals of your rabies vaccination and proof of spay/neuter, they will just look at them and give them back. If you have lost your receipts, ask your vet for a letter at your next visit.

Boston Dog Licence Requirements: Download Application

  • fill out the Boston Dog License Application
  • provide copy of current Rabies Vaccination
  • Proof of neutered or spayed pet (receipt or letter from vet if applicable)
  • check or cash for $6 per neutered/spayed dog or $17 per intact dog
  • a stamped return envelope with return address if applying by mail

A Conversation With Boston Animal Control

When I first wrote this article in 2010, I had a informative conversation at Boston Animal Control about the state of dog ownership in Boston. I had asked what were the biggest issues regarding dogs living in Boston. In return I got a solid answer that if ever resolved would ease tensions between dog people and non dog people.

First, pick up after the dogs, especially in winter when many leave dog poop behind in the snow. Often times this is the main reason dogs are banned from green space in Boston.

Second, practice better voice control. Even if your dog is “fine”, it is not ok to let them run up to strangers, especially children and the elderly.

Third, get involved in having specific areas for off-leash dogs. Off-leash dog parks go a long way in resolving the two issues above. The only way designated off-leash areas for dogs are created is through dog owners efforts. Even animal control recognizes the need for off-leash areas, but are unable to create them.