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City of Hamilton - Planning & Economic Development

Responsible Animal Ownership By-law

Being a responsible pet owner is much more than just providing adequate water, food and shelter for your pet. Domestic pets are completely dependent on their owners for their welfare.
  • Owning a pet is a lifetime commitment. If you can't make the commitment, don't get the pet.
  • Research the type of pet you are considering to make sure you know what you are getting into. Different pets have different lifespans, energy levels, temperaments, and requirements.
  • Choose a pet that fits your lifestyle. Don't get a high energetic dog, if you don't have the time to exercise him. If you can't afford grooming or can't do the grooming yourself, pick a low maintenance dog.
  • Spay or neuter your pets. There are too many homeless animals without adding to the problem. 
  • Don't make your dog a "backyard dog". Dogs strive on companionship and need to be with their human pack. 
  • Be aware of weather conditions. Leaving your dog in the car on a hot day or in the yard without shade or water is risking your dog's life.
  • Make sure your home is "pet" safe. Pesticides, medications, household cleaners and some houseplants (dieffenbachia, philodendron, hyacinth, and mistletoe) can be deadly to your pet. Keep them out of reach. 
  • Provide veterinary care for your pet. Keep their vaccinations up to date and make sure they have annual checkups. 
  • Keep identification tag on your pet... it is your pets ticket back home. Both dogs and cats need ID!! Microchipping is good too, but an external tag is essential, it could mean the difference of your neighbour returning your pet to you or turning him into the pound!
  • Obedience train and socialize your animal.
  • Don't let your pets run loose. Dogs should be walked on leashes. Any outdoor off leash access should be secure in a fenced area.
  • An outdoor cat’s average lifespan is 3 years; an indoor cat's average lifespan is 14 years. 
  • Provide your pet the proper diet. Obesity can be as deadly as malnutrition. Be aware that some foods can be deadly, such as chocolate, and fatty foods can cause pancreatitis. 
  • Make sure your pet gets a proper amount of exercise. 
  • Take extra precautions during holidays that use fireworks like Victoria Day and Canada Day. It is the scariest time for pets; make sure your pets are secure indoors. Also protect your pet during Halloween.
  • Be kind to your pet and shower him with love... remember you are his world.
  • Take special care of your pet during their senior years, this is when they need you the most.

 Animal By-law

After extensive public consultation the City of Hamilton has developed an updated Animal By-law for Hamilton.  There were ten By-laws across the City that regulated the keeping and control of animals. Although the new By-law (titled the Responsible Animal Ownership By-law) has new provisions, much of what was in the old By-laws have remained the same. The purpose of this By-law is to ensure the health and safety of residents, protect property and prevent public nuisances. Some examples of what  remains the same include:

  • Licensing dogs;
  • Prohibiting animals ‘at large’;
  • Requiring owners to clean up after their animals;
  • Designating potentially dangerous and dangerous dogs (and requiring muzzles); and
  • Prohibiting exotic animals.

A few of the new provisions to the By-law include:

  • Clarification of what is permitted in rural versus urban areas;
  • ‘Owned’ cats that roam or are ‘at large’ will be regulated in the same way as dogs, with the exception that cats will not need to be licensed;
  • Pet limits have been limited to 4 domestic animals per dwelling in urban areas;
  • Urban chickens are not permitted; and
  • Regulations have been added regarding where and how an animal may be housed to ensure its health and safety.


Contact Information:

Monday - Friday: 8:30am - 4:30pm
Saturday - Sunday: 10am - 2pm
Closed on Holidays

Phone: 905-574-3433

Dispatch Services
Monday - Friday: 8:30am - 6pm

Emergencies Only
Monday - Friday: 6pm - 8:30am
Weekends and Holidays

Fax: 905-574-8877
Licensing Fax: 905-546-4044
(Please Note: This e-mail address is not monitored continuously and should not be used for matters requiring immediate attention.)

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