The Austin City Council voted to impose requirements on the sale of dogs and cats in order to provide for the health and welfare of the animals sold, as well as to protect potential buyers. These regulations require that sellers spay or neuter each dog or cat prior to sale or pay a $50 animal processing fee to register the animal with the City of Austin.
Austin City Code § 3-2-3, "Commerce in Live Animals", provides that any “person who exchanges for consideration dogs or cats, including puppies and kittens, regardless of age”...“shall pay an animal processing fee” unless the dog or cat has been “certified by a licensed veterinarian to be incapable of being bred.”
Any person who conducts a sale without first paying the requisite animal processing fee or providing veterinary documentation indicating that the animal is sterile commits an offense. Each unauthorized sale constitutes a Class C Misdemeanor, punishable by a minimum fine of $200 and up to $2,000 per animal sold. (Austin City Code § 3-7-2).
Registering Your Pet For Sale
- To register an animal, click here.
- To provide veterinary documentation that the animal has been spayed or neutered, click here.
You may register your animals by mail by submitting the completed form and payment to the Austin Animal Center located at 7201 Levander Loop, Austin, TX 78702 in Building A. You may also pay the processing fee in person at the Cashier’s Desk at the Austin Animal Center. Accepted payment forms include: cash, credit (excluding American Express), or debit, as well as personal checks. Please make all checks payable to “The City of Austin Animal Services Office.”
Note that you must submit one form for each individual animal offered for sale. Once your registration is processed, you will receive a registration confirmation for each animal indicating that you have properly complied with City law and the animal has been deemed eligible for sale. Please keep a copy of this confirmation for your records.
The full text of the City Code § 3-2-3 is available here.
Austin City Code § 3-2-3 also requires sellers to implant each dog or cat with an identifying microchip and provide such registration information to the new owner to ensure that lost pets can be identified and reunited with their owners. Free microchipping services are available at the Pet Resource Center at the Austin Animal Center during normal business hours, and also check our Facebook page for free microchipping events.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does the ordinance apply to “backyard breeders”?
Yes. Any person or business that offers dogs or cats for sale, regardless of the animal’s age, must either pay the $50 fee to register the animal, or provide veterinary documentation showing that the animal has been spayed or neutered prior to sale. A person selling a dog or cat should provide the buyer with proof the animal has been properly registered with the City of Austin.
What are the penalties for not complying?
Selling a dog or cat that has not been properly registered is a Class C Misdemeanor. Each unauthorized sale constitutes an offense, punishable by a minimum fine of $200 and up to $2,000 per animal sold. (Austin City Code § 3-7-2). Any person in Austin who conducts a sale is legally required to first pay the requisite animal processing fee or provide veterinary documentation indicating that the animal is sterile to avoid criminal penalties.
Does someone selling a single dog or cat still need to register the pet for sale?
Yes. Anyone offering a dog or cat for sale in the City of Austin must first register the pet for sale and pay the requisite fee or provide proper documentation from a licensed veterinarian indicating that the animal has been spayed or neutered.
Do I have to register every animal in a litter?
Yes. Each individual animal offered for sale must be registered. Failure to register every animal sold constitutes a Class C Misdemeanor offense and is punishable by the penalties described above.
How can I show that I’ve complied with the law?
When you register an animal for sale, you will receive a registration confirmation indicating that you have properly complied with municipal law and that the animal has been deemed eligible for sale. This document will contain a unique ID number. Please keep the proof of registration form for your records and provide this information to the buyer as well.
What is a not for profit 501(c)(3)?
An organization that is not established for the purpose of making a profit and that is registered with the Texas Secretary of State and the Federal Internal Revenue Service (I.R.S.) as a nonprofit and tax-exempt organization.
How do I become a City registered 501(c)(3) animal welfare organization?
Non-profit Rescue Groups and animal welfare organizations must provide their articles of incorporation and documentation showing they are in good standing both on their non-profit status and on their incorporation records with the Texas Secretary of State’s Office and the I.R.S. Organizations must also be in good standing with the Austin/Travis County Animal Services and not have any pending animal cruelty convictions or animal cruelty convictions. The information provided will be reviewed by City of Austin Animal Services Office and the group will be notified if they have been approved and registered by the City.
What is an Animal Shelter Certified Rescue Partner?
An animal shelter certified rescue partner is a non-profit rescue group or other animal rescue organization or shelter that has submitted documentation and has been approved by the Animal Shelter Rescue/Placement Partner office, received confirmation of approval, and been issued an ID number. These groups are approved to pull animals from the Animal Shelter to adopt out.
How do I become a City of Austin Animal Shelter Certified Rescue Partner?
Rescue groups interested in becoming a certified rescue partner should contact us via email at email@example.com.
What is the difference in a Certified Rescue Partner and a 501(c)(3) animal welfare
A certified rescue partner is an organization/shelter that has been approved by the AAC Rescue Program to pull animals from the Austin Animal Center and adopt out from their group. A 501(c)(3) animal welfare organization is a group that has received confirmation that they are approved and registered which excludes them from being considered a “Pet Trader” by definition. A city certified 501(c)(3) animal welfare organization can adopt out animals but they cannot pull animals from Austin Animal Center as a rescue partner without first becoming a certified rescue partner.
City Code Section 3-1-1 Definitions
(9) Pet Trader means a person who exchanges for consideration dogs or cats, including puppies and kittens, regardless of age of the dog or cat. The term excludes the City of Austin animal shelter or a City of Austin animal shelter certified partner or a not for profit 501(c)(3) animal welfare organization registered with the City.
(8) Off-Site Retail Sale means the exchange of consideration for a cat or dog, regardless of the age of the cat or dog, at a location other than where the cat or dog was bred.
(11) Retail Sale means the exchange for consideration for a cat or dog, regardless of the age of the cat or dog.