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Animal Protection

For assistance from an Animal Protection Officer (stray/loose dog, welfare complaint, etc.), please call our DAP Officer Dispatch at (720) 913-2080.


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Pet Safety Tips


decorativeNever leave a dog (or any animal) in a hot car. Leaving a dog in a car for “just a minute” may be too long.


  • On a warm day, the temperature inside of a vehicle can reach 120°F in a matter of minutes – even with the windows cracked.
  • Because dogs don’t sweat, they can’t cool themselves. Their body temperature can rise quickly and they could suffer brain damage, organ damage, or even die from heatstroke or suffocation.


  • Immediately call 720-913-2080 to report.
  • Note the description of the vehicle, license plate number, specific vehicle location and description of the pet.
  • Familiarize yourself with Colorado’s Good Samaritan Law to know when you can intervene.


If you see a dog in a hot car, immediately call 720-913-2080 and familiarize yourself with the Good Samaritan law that provides legal immunity for people who break a car window to save an animal. However, to ensure immunity:

  • You must believe the animal is in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury.
  • The vehicle must be locked.
  • You must make a ‘reasonable effort’ to find the vehicle’s owner.
  • You must contact Denver Police Department, Denver Fire Department or DAP before you enter the vehicle.
  • You cannot use more force than is necessary to free the animal.
  • If you do break a window, you must remain with the animal and on the scene until police or DAP officers arrive.

Leaving an animal in a hot vehicle constitutes animal cruelty (per Sec. 8-131 of the Denver County Ordinance) & could result in a fine of up to $999 and/or up to 300 days in jail.

If your pet must be removed from your vehicle, your window may be broken, your vehicle could be towed, and you could be responsible for emergency medical costs for your pet – in addition to a cruelty and neglect charge.

Additional Resources

Do you want to help spread the word about the dangers of leaving dogs in hot cars? Download the Denver Dogs in Hot Cars informational flyer in English (PDF) or Spanish (PDF).

If you're looking for a visual graphic to share with your friends and colleagues, print a copy of our Dogs in Hot Cars poster (PDF). 

Our Dogs in Hot Cars program is adapted from the national My Dog is Cool campaign created by the group RedRover. For more information about this campaign visit

alert graphic with snowflakes

Ideally, the best way to protect pets from extreme temperatures is to avoid long-term outdoor exposure. However, if pets have to be outside for longer durations, Denver city ordinance requires that pets have adequate outdoor shelter such as a dog house or a similar structure that allows the animal to escape the elements. Further insulating the shelter or adding a “doggie door” to a garage or covered area adds another layer of protection from the cold.

Additional tips include:

  • When pets come in from the outdoors, remove snow, ice, salt other ice treatment chemicals from their coats and paws. This will not only keep them dry, but will also prevent them from ingesting the chemicals.
  • Check for cracks in paw pads or redness between toes. Massaging petroleum jelly into paw pads before going outside can help protect from salt and chemical agents. Booties provide protection from irritation. Use pet-friendly ice melts whenever possible.
  • Never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during cold weather.
  • Don’t leave dangerous and potentially lethal chemicals like snow and ice remover or anti-freeze within your pet’s reach.
  • Check under the hood of outdoor vehicles before starting them up. Stray cats often look for refuge in warm engines.
  • Don’t shave your dog down to the skin in the winter as a longer winter coat will provide more warmth. If your dog is short-haired, consider getting a coat or sweater.
  • Pets burn extra energy by trying to stay warm in the wintertime. Feeding your pet a little bit more during the cold weather months can provide much-needed calories. Ensure they also have plenty of water to help keep them hydrated and to prevent dry skin.

Denver Animal Protection always reminds residents to ensure pets are protected from the elements. Failing to do so could have dire consequence for pets and result in a Cruelty to Animals or Animal Neglect charge, up to a $999 fine and/or a year in jail for the owner. 

dog holding leash in mouthDenver's leash laws are intended to protect the health and safety of all people and pets that enjoy our city’s parks and open areas. However, even “good” dogs and owners need to obey leash laws.

While pups are free to run and roam in designated dog parks, here are the top five reasons why you should keep your dogs on leash in public spaces:

  1. It’s the law: Even gentle, well-behaved and well-trained dogs are required to remain on a leash and under the control of their owners in public spaces. Pet owners who violate this ordinance are subject to a fine.
  2.  Protect your dog: Even if a dog has perfect recall, an owner cannot control the world around them. An unleashed dog could be attacked by another animal (including wildlife that might spread disease) or struck by a motor vehicle. The leash is there to protect your dog from the world as much as it’s there to protect the world from your dog.
  3. Parks are full temptations: Owners just can’t predict what their unleashed dogs may encounter in park or public space: bicyclists, barbeques, an un-spayed female dog, a rambunctious child, SQUIRREL! There are lots of doggie distractions in our neighborhoods that could cause unpredictable reactions in dogs; leashing keeps everyone safe.
  4. Liability: Bad things are simply more likely to happen when dogs run loose, and owners are liable for their dog’s actions. A leash provides emergency control over your pet. A court may determine that letting a dog off leash is reckless. So, if something goes wrong, an owner could find themselves in legal hot water over a bite, property damage, etc.
  5. Setting a good example: Many people think it is okay to let their dogs off leash because they see other people doing it. However, dogs running loose aren’t good for anyone. Set a good example as a responsible pet owner and keep your furry family members leashed.

But what if your good boys and girls need to run and play? Luckily, Denver offers many dog parks throughout the city. Before visiting a designated dog park, please keep the following in mind:

  • Dog parks are open from sunrise to sundown, seven days a week.
  • Dogs must be spayed or neutered, or have a current Denver Intact Permit (Denver residents).
  • Dogs must have current rabies and Denver dog license.
  • Dog owners must dispose of their dog’s feces properly and immediately.

When at the dog park, supervise your dog at all times. Make sure that you are able to call them away from anything, if needed. Always keep a leash handy so that if your unleashed dog is making other people or dogs uncomfortable (or your pet is stressed by others), you can readily remove them from the situation.

Thanks for helping make Denver a place where all people and animals can live better and thrive!

Reports of pet exposures to blue-green algae have increased this summer (across the U.S. and locally in Colorado in Sloan’s Lake and other lakes near Denver). As summer heats up, you may have your dogs out near various bodies of water and should know the blue-green algae is known to cause poisoning in dogs, cats, livestock, wildlife, birds and fish. The algae can cause neurologic signs and/or liver failure, leading to death. Water containing toxic algal blooms will look like pea-green paint or slime on the surface. Dog owners are warned to not let their pups drink or swim in these areas.

In early August, health officials confirmed cases of the plague in prairie dogs in Commerce City and Denver. Plague is a disease that can spread to humans and other mammals in a variety of ways. But most plague cases are the result of bites from infected fleas. It’s less commonly transmitted through direct contact with fluids or tissues from infected animals, including pets.

To keep you and your pets safe:

  1. Use repellent if you think you could be exposed to rodent fleas during activities such as walking, camping, hiking, or working outdoors. Products containing DEET can be applied to the skin, as well as clothing. And products containing permethrin can be applied to clothing (always follow instructions on the label).
  2. Keep fleas off your pets by applying flea-control products. Animals that roam freely are more likely to come in contact with plague-infected animals or fleas and could bring them into homes. If your pet becomes sick, seek immediate care from a veterinarian.
  3. Do not allow dogs or cats that roam free in infected areas to sleep on your bed.

For additional information regarding the plague, visit these websites:

During high kitten season in the spring and summer, it’s not unusual to discover a nest of unattended kittens or a single kitten seemingly abandoned by the mother. You want to help, right? Before jumping to the rescue, consider these recommendations.                                                                       

First: Wait & Watch
You might have come across the kittens while their mother is off searching for food or is in the process of moving them to a different location. Try to determine if the mother is coming back for them, or if they are truly orphaned.

To do this, stand 35 feet or more away from the kittens. If you stand too close, the mom will not approach her kittens. 

If you need to leave before the mother cat comes back, carefully evaluate whether the kittens are in immediate danger: Is it raining or snowing? Are dogs or wild animals that might harm the kittens running loose in the neighborhood? Does the neighborhood have kids or adults who are likely to harm the kittens? Are the kittens located in an area with heavy foot or car traffic?

The mother cat offers her kittens’ best chance for survival, so wait and watch as long as you can. The best food for the kittens is their mother’s milk. Remove the kittens only if they are in immediate, grave danger.

If the mother cat returns…
If mom returns and the area is relatively safe, leave the kittens alone with mom until they are weaned. You can offer a shelter and regular food to mom but keep the food and shelter at a distance from each other. Mom will find the food but will not accept your shelter if the food is nearby because she will not want to attract other cats to food located near her nest.  You may decide to trap the entire family at this time.  If you take the babies, it is likely that mama cat will be pregnant again within 48 hours and you will be in a repeating cycle.  Catching mom along with the kittens helps to reduce the feral cat population.  

Four to six weeks is the optimal age to take the kittens from the mother for socialization and adoption placement, and any time after eight weeks for Trap-Neuter-Return (spay/neuter, vaccination, ear tip, and return to their colony). Female cats can become pregnant with a new litter even while they are still nursing, so don’t forget to get the mother cat spayed or you will have more kittens soon!

If the mother cat does not return…
If you discover that mom has been hit by a car, or if for any reason it appears that she is not coming back, then you should remove the kittens. This is crucial to the kittens’ survival.

Kitten Care & Bottle-Feeding

First Steps
1.     Prepare for bottle-feeding and proper care before you take the kittens off the street.

2.     If you feel you must take the kittens in, wrap the carrier or container you will transport them in in a towel for warmth, but make sure you leave air holes uncovered so the kittens won’t suffocate.

3.     Check to see if the kittens are warm. This is more important than feeding. Never feed a cold kitten! If the kittens are cold, you will need to warm them up slowly. You can tell a kitten is cold if the pads of his feet and/or ears feel cool or cold. Put your finger in the kitten’s mouth. If it feels cold, then the kitten’s temperature is too low. This is life-threatening and must be dealt with immediately. Warm up the kitten slowly over 20 minutes by holding him close to your body, and continually rubbing him with your warm hands.  You may also use a heating pad on low temperature. 

Feeding & Elimination

Neonatal kittens (under four weeks of age) cannot eat solid food (not canned, not dry) and cannot urinate or defecate on their own, so you must bottle-feed them around-the-clock and stimulate their genitals after every feeding so they can eliminate. For example, if you have kittens less than one week old, they will need to be fed and stimulated every three hours. That means you will be caring for them eight times a day — for example, at midnight, 3:00 a.m., 6:00 a.m., etc. If the kittens are unusually small or sickly, they might need to be fed every two hours.

Skipping feedings or overfeeding can cause diarrhea, which results in dehydration, a condition that can be fatal for small kittens (not to mention a hassle for you to clean up after). Diarrhea requires a visit to the veterinarian.

As the kittens age, the number of feedings they need per day goes down. You can start weaning at four weeks of age.

Milk Replacement Formulas

Powdered kitten milk replacement formula (KMR) is better for kittens than the canned liquid formula. We recommend that you use only powdered kitten milk replacement formula from the start — or as soon as possible — to prevent diarrhea. Two major brands of formula are available:  PetAg KMR Powder and Farnam Pet Products Just Born Highly Digestible Milk Replacer for Kittens.  Both brands are available in both canned and powdered formulas. We highly recommend the powdered type to prevent diarrhea. It can be purchased at pet food stores, veterinarians’ offices, or online.

Make sure that the powdered formula you are using is fresh by opening the pop-top and smelling it. It should smell slightly sweet, like powdered milk. If it has a sharp smell like bad cooking oil, cheese, or chemicals, it is rancid, and dangerous to give to the kittens. Do not use any type of formula past the expiration date.

Once opened, kitten milk replacement formula (canned or powdered) must be refrigerated promptly and stored in the refrigerator. You cannot keep opened kitten milk replacement formula out of the refrigerator for very long before it spoils. Think of it as fresh milk.
Tip: Using unflavored Pedialyte electrolyte solution instead of water when mixing the powdered formula for the first 24 hours of feeding helps prevents diarrhea and eases the transition from mom’s milk to commercial kitten milk replacement formula.


Animal Ordinances & Legislation

Living with Your Pet in Denver

Read an overview of city ordinances related to the care and keeping of pets in Denver. Pet owners are responsible for a comprehensive understanding of any ordinances impacting their pets and for compliance of such ordinances. Your cooperation and compliance means a safe, happy pet-owning experience for you, your pet, and the community.



Breed Specific Legislation

Understanding Denver’s Breed Ban for Pit Bulls

Under Denver’s Ordinance Sec. 8-67, pit bull breeds (American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, or Staffordshire Bull Terrier) are banned in the City and County of Denver.

Pit bull type dogs are defined as any dog displaying the majority of physical traits of any one or more of the above breeds, or any dog exhibiting those distinguishing (physical) characteristics, which substantially conform to the standards established by American Kennel Club or United Kennel Club.

If your dog is impounded by Denver Animal Protection as an illegal pit bull, American Pit Bull Terrier, Staffordshire terrier or Staffordshire bull terrier, it will be brought to the Denver Animal Shelter for an official breed evaluation.

Rules & Regulations

If you are unsure of your dog’s primary breed, you can make an appointment with the Denver Animal Shelter for a breed assessment. If Denver Animal Protection has impounded your dog for suspicion of breed ban violation, you will be contacted with breed evaluation results within 3–5 business days. Evaluations are completed by three certified staff members who will determine if the majority of the physical traits are consistent with the banned breeds per the ordinance.

If the dog is determined to be one of the banned breeds, it will not be allowed to stay in Denver. The owner must relocate their dog to an address outside of Denver, and within a city that does not have a breed restriction ordinance.

If it is determined that the dog does not have the majority physical characteristics of the banned breeds, the dog will be allowed in Denver. The owner will be provided with an official breed evaluation letter stating that the dog was evaluated by Denver Animal Protection. All dogs in Denver are required to have a rabies vaccination, city license and be spayed or neutered, or have an intact permit.

If you dispute the classification of your dog as a pit bull, you may file a written petition for a hearing concerning such classification no later than 7 days after impoundment.

For second offenders of the breed ban, the dog then becomes the property of Denver Animal Protection. Per the ordinance, Denver Animal Protection will evaluate the dog’s health and temperament to determine whether the dog can be relocated to a partner outside of Denver.

If your dog is impounded as a result of the pit bull ordinance & determined to be a pit bull breed, you will be responsible for all fines and boarding fees. Fines are determined by a judge; boarding fees are based on the amount of time your dog was at the shelter. If your dog is impounded & determined not to be a breed included in the ban, you will not be responsible for any boarding fees or fines. If your dog enters Denver Animal Shelter as a stray, standard fees apply for redemption. 

Any pitbull redemption must occur between Monday -  Thursday between 10:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday between 11 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.


Wildlife & Pest Control

Dealing with Wildlife & Pests in Denver

Denver Animal Shelter - Denver Animal Protection responds to calls regarding wildlife if the animal is sick or injured. Please do not call if the conflict is simply "nuisance" in nature.

For other issues pertaining to wildlife, such as keeping wild animals off your property, see the Colorado Parks & Wildlife website or contact Colorado Parks & Wildlife at 303-291-7227.

Denver Animal Shelter - Denver Animal Protection does not provide any pest control services. 

The City and County of Denver Department of Public Health and Environment - Environmental Quality Division maintains a mosquito larvae surveillance program intended to minimize the adult mosquito population and thus the occurrence of West Nile virus. The city does not spray or contract for the spraying of adult mosquitoes. For more information regarding the mosquito larvae surveillance program, visit the Environmental Quality Division - Water Quality page or contact the Environmental Quality Division at 720-865-5452.

For other pest control related problems, contact a local pest control company.

Animal Related Business Licenses

For information about obtaining a business license for an animal shelter, pet grooming shop, kennel, pet shop, or pet hospital, visit the city's Business Licensing - Kennels page. These business licenses are issued by the City & County of Denver - Department of Excise and Licenses.

Donate Today!

Denver Animal  Protection (DAP) provides care to more than 12,000 pets each year. DAP operates Denver Animal Shelter (DAS), an open-admissions shelter that is home to more than 6,000 lost and abandoned pets each year.



1241 W. Bayaud Ave.
Denver, CO 80223

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