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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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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.


What is an Intact Permit?

Denver requires any dog or cat over the age of 6 months to be spayed or neutered. An intact permit allows an exception to this rule.  An intact permit is not a permit for breeding.

Denver Animal Protection’s policy is that only one intact permit is allowed per residence for animals of the same species, even if they are the same sex. This is in the interest of the animals, as well as the health and welfare of the public.

An intact permit application will be denied for the following:

  • The pet owner has had two violations of Chapter 8 in the preceding 24-month period.
  • There is a history of bites or attacks associated with the animal or previous animals of the owner.
  • The dog has been running at large and/or impounded at Denver Animal Shelter.
  • Property is at an apartment complex, duplex, etc. and/or yard is a communal or shared yard.

If you have been issued a citation for spay/neuter, we must receive your application within 15 days of when the citation was issued to ensure the property inspection and permit approval is completed within the 30-day compliance period.

Intact Permits Process and Requirements

Applying for an annual Intact Animal Permit requires the following:

  • Inspection of the property where the animal is kept
  • Proof of current rabies vaccination issued by a licensed veterinarian and annual vaccines
    • For dogs: distemper and parvovirus
    • For cats: feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and panleukopenia
  • A current City of Denver dog/cat license
    • Fees are: $15 one year, $40 for three years, and $150 for lifetime license. (Proof of a current rabies vaccination is required to purchase a city license.)
  • Proof of spay/neuter for any other same-species pet in the home as the pet that the permit is requested for.

Property Requirements (for dogs)

  • The fence must be at least 6 feet in height.
  • Wrought iron fences will not be approved (small breed dogs can enter easily).
  • All gates and entrances must be secured.

Denver Animal Protection will not approve an intact permit at an address with inadequate fencing. The fence must prevent the resident dog from escaping, as well as prevent any stray dogs from entering the yard. 

Intact Permit Application (PDF)


Breed Specific Legislation

Denver Pit Bull Facts

Updated: November 10, 2020

Denver residents voted November 3, 2020, to repeal the pit bull ban. Under Denver’s Ordinance Sec. 8-67, pit bull breeds (American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, or Staffordshire Bull Terrier) are prohibited unless they have been issued a provisional Breed-Restricted Permit.

This means that Denver residents may not own or keep a pit bull within the city without first obtaining a Breed-Restricted Permit from Denver Animal Protection (DAP).

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

Although the ordinance will not be officially amended until January 1, 2021, DAP has established an initial Breed-Restricted Permitting Process based on the amended language of the ordinance voted into law to help pit bull owners plan for the changes. It is the responsibility of any new owner of an adopted breed-restricted animal to contact DAP to initiate the provisional permitting process.

If your question is not answered below, please review the FAQs that follow. 

Starting January 1, 2021, all pit bull owners and adopters must contact Denver Animal Protection to schedule an appointment for a breed-restricted assessment. Assessments will take 30-45 minutes and will be conducted by Denver Animal Protection (DAP) at the Denver Animal Shelter. The assessment fee is $25 per dog and is non-refundable. No owner or keeper of any pit bull may own or keep more than two (2) pit bulls per household.

Through the assessment process, if your dog is determined not to have a majority of the physical characteristics of the banned breeds, the dog will be allowed in Denver without a permit. The owner will be provided with an official breed evaluation letter stating that the dog was evaluated by Denver Animal Protection. Assessment fees are non-refundable. All dogs in Denver are required to have a rabies vaccination, city license, and be spayed or neutered, or have an intact permit allowing the dog to remain unaltered (which requires a $150 fee; more information here).

If, through the assessment process, your dog is determined to have a majority of the physical characteristics of the banned breeds, you will need to follow the application process for obtaining a Breed-Restricted Permit.

The application process for a Breed-Restricted Permit to own or keep a pit bull will require the following:

  • Name and address of the owner or keeper where the pit bull will be located
  • The names and addresses of two (2) people who may be contacted in the event of an emergency involving the pit bull
  • An accurate description of the pit bull and recent photograph
  • The payment of the $30 Breed-Restricted Permit fee (this is in addition to the $25 assessment fee)
  • Proof that the animal has been neutered or spayed, or proof of an intact license from DAP that allows the animal to remain unaltered
  • Proof that the animal has had a registered microchip implanted
  • Proof that the animal has a current rabies vaccination
  • Proof that the animal has a city license
  • Any other information that DAP reasonably requires

The fee for the permit is $30 per animal, and it must be renewed every year for three (3) years (at $30 per animal per year).  If there are no violations* within that time period, Breed-Restricted Permit holders may request to be removed from Breed-Restricted requirements.

*Examples of potential violations include, but are not limited to:

  • Off-leash charge
  • Lapsed permit charge
  • Excrement charge
  • Bite charge
  • Excessive barking charge
  • Potentially dangerous animal/dangerous animal charge

Each violation results in a resetting of the three-year time period, or other consequences. In order to reapply for a Breed-Restricted Permit, owners and keepers must show proof that the violation has been corrected.

In addition to the Breed-Restricted Permit, each and every dog and cat living within the City and County of Denver is required to have a license ($15 per animal annually, or $40 for three years) purchased at the time of receiving the Breed-Restricted Permit; a license can be purchased here

Are pit bull dogs legal now in Denver?

Pit bull breeds are still illegal to own within the City and County of Denver unless you have a Breed-Restricted Permit for the dog issued by Denver Animal Protection.

When is the new ordinance active?

The ordinance will go into effect January 1, 2021.

Between November 4, 2020, and January 1, 2021, the already existing law will still be in effect. Owners of dogs impounded or evaluated during this time period will have their animals returned to them with a breed letter and guidance to apply for and purchase a permit after the new law goes into effect.

If a pet is brought into the Denver Animal Shelter as a stray during this “gap period” and is determined to be a pit bull breed while here, owners will be able to reclaim under our current process and be given instruction on how to apply for a permit after January 1, 2021.

What if I have a dog that has already been determined to be illegal under the old ordinance?

Under the new ordinance, after January 1, 2021, you may bring the dog that was previously illegal back to Denver, but first you must obtain a permit. In order to do this, please bring the breed letter you were previously given into the shelter and request a permit application from the staff at the shelter.

Can I bring my pit bull into Denver now?

You cannot bring a breed-restricted dog into Denver until the new law is in effect, after January 1, 2021. In order to do so, you must have a Breed-Restricted Permit issued by Denver Animal Protection.

I’m thinking of moving to Denver. Can I purchase the permit online or call and buy the permit before I move?

Unfortunately, this is not an option. Denver Animal Protection needs to do an evaluation in person of the dog to determine its breed, and then you can purchase the permit if necessary. If you get your dog evaluated by Denver Animal Protection prior to moving, you are welcome to purchase the permit at the same time and then update it when you move to a Denver address.

Can pit bull dogs be adopted out now by Denver Animal Shelter or other local shelters to Denver residents?

Yes, but not until after January 1, 2021. Adopters of breed-restricted dogs must schedule a breed evaluation and then purchase a permit if Denver Animal Protection determines your dog to be a pit bull breed.

If I am a Denver resident and adopt a dog from a shelter other than Denver Animal Shelter that is a pit bull breed, what do I need to do next?

Please schedule a breed evaluation and then purchase a permit if Denver Animal Protection determines your dog to be a pit bull breed.

I don’t know if my dog is a pit bull. What should I do?

If you are unsure of your dog’s primary breed, you can make an appointment with Denver Animal Protection for a breed assessment. Breed assessments cost $25. If your dog is determined to have a majority of the physical characteristics of the banned breeds, you will need to follow the process for obtaining a Breed-Restricted Permit.

If it is determined that the dog does not have a majority of the physical characteristics of the banned breeds, the dog will be allowed in Denver without a permit. 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.

Click here to schedule a pit bull assessment online. 

How many pit bulls can I have?

The maximum number of pit bulls that any owner or keeper may have living in your home is two (2).

Can I bring my pit bull to an off-leash dog park?

Yes, once your dog has satisfied all of the requirements and been issued a Breed-Restricted Permit and a City license, the dog is allowed in any off-leash dog park in the City and County of Denver.

What are the criteria for my dog being labeled a pit bull?

Denver Animal Protection team members have been highly trained to evaluate the characteristics of a dog to determine whether it is a restricted breed. Many of these characteristics are apparent only to a trained professional.

How do I make an appointment for an assessment?

Information on how to schedule an assessment after January 1 through Denver Animal Protection will be posted here shortly; no appointments for assessments are being scheduled at this time.

What if I disagree with Denver Animal Protection’s assessment of my dog?

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 the assessment.

Why do I need to provide the names and addresses of two people in the application?

To fulfill the requirements of Denver Ordinance Sec. 8-67, all owners or keepers of a breed-restricted animal must have on file the names and addresses of two contacts.

These two contacts must be people who can take care of the dog or be able to control the dog when you’re not available.  The people you designate as your contacts can be a family member, a neighbor or a friend, but that person is going to have to come get the dog if it escapes or is in an altercation. It needs to be someone who feels comfortable with and capable of getting the animal under control. This person is acting on your behalf and is responsible only for the care or control of the dog when you are not able to do so.

What if I don’t get a permit for my pit bull(s)?

If you are stopped by Denver Animal Protection or are reported to DAP and found to be in possession of one or more pit bulls that have not been issued a permit, the following protocols apply:

  1. You will receive a warning and a mandatory request to bring the animal(s) in for an assessment
  2. DAP will perform a follow-up verification within ten (10) days of the warning. If you have not brought the dog in for an assessment and applied for a permit, you may be subject to a court appearance or a fine, or DAP may remove the animal(s) from the home.

Barking Dog Complaints

Denver Animal Protection (DAP) recommends you first try to solve the issue directly with your neighbor before calling us. Because most dogs bark when their owners are away at work, the dog owner may not even know their dog is barking. If you and your neighbor are unable to resolve the issue, your next step is to call the Denver 311 Help Center.

DAP will not take an anonymous barking dog complaint, which means that you must leave your contact information with a 311 agent. The agent will then route your call to DAP, which will send a warning or courtesy notice to the dog owner advising them of the complaint. This letter details the barking dog ordinance and gives the owner an opportunity to fix the issue.

DAP will not take a new barking dog complaint less than two weeks after the first complaint is made. The dog owner needs to have time to receive the letter and take steps to fix the issue.

If the first letter does not work and the barking continues, contact 311 again and leave your information with the agent. DAP will then refer both parties to Community Mediation Concepts. This is a free service offered by the City and County of Denver. Note that DAP will not take a third barking dog complaint until mediation has been attempted and is unsuccessful. If the reporting person refuses mediation, DAP will not take any further complaints from that person.

If the dog owner refuses mediation and the barking is proven to be a nuisance, the dog owner is subject to citations from DAP.

The reporting person will get a letter in the mail that provides mediation information. An Animal Protection Officer will go to the dog owner’s house to gather their information and tell them that mediation is required.

DAP has a very high success rate with mediation for barking dog issues. If mediation does fail, Community Mediation Concepts will contact DAP. DAP will then allow the reporting person to make a third barking complaint to 311. At this point, the reporting person must have proof that the barking is a nuisance (such as an audio or video recording of more than 10 minutes of barking), or a second neighbor must serve as a witness to the same barking incident.

Dogs that bark too much can be frustrating for dog owners and anyone within earshot , but dogs bark, right? It is your job to teach your dog when it is okay to bark, which will make you, your dog, and those around you a lot happier. Dogs bark too much when they are bored, need exercise, are afraid of unfamiliar people or other dogs, or are tied up in the yard. If you fix these issues first, your dog will be less likely to bark.

Puppy Barking

Tackle barking dog issues during puppyhood, when possible. Introduce your puppy to new people and other dogs and take them for walks near noisy places. Never punish a bark. Allow your puppy to “sound the alarm” a couple of times, then call them back to you and offer praise. This teaches that they have done their job, shouldn’t continue barking. The goal: The dog comes to you, stops barking, and then gets praise, treats or playtime. 

Crate training can successful in treating barking issues. Use the crate as your puppy’s safe place, where they go for quiet time. Puppies need plenty of exercise before crate time and plenty of toys in the crate to keep them busy

Excessive Barking Issues

Your dog may bark too much  even when there’s nothing to bark at. You may need to try different ways of fixing this problem, because each dog may respond better to one way than another. The most important thing is that your dog always has access to food, water, and shelter, because a dog that is well cared for will be less stressed out and more open to training.

·         Give your dog daily exercise and human time. Dogs are social creatures, which means it’s important to play with your dog on a regular basis, as well as to practice obedience training.

·         Spay or neuter your dog. This reduces  aggression and frustration, and it can also get rid of unwanted behaviors such as  barking, fighting, digging, chewing, escaping and marking territory.

·         Do not tie up or chain your dog  in the yard. Dogs who are tied up or chained get upset and bored.

·         Do not leave your dog outside while you are away. Barking triggers are everywhere, which can make the problem worse. 

·         Crate your dog when you need to leave them at  home alone, but never for more than 8 hours at a time, and no more than four hours for puppies up to six months. Leave your dog with plenty of things to do like chew toys and puzzle toys.

·         Create visual barriers. Block areas that  trigger the dog so   they cannot see the things  that cause t them to bark

·         Leave a radio or the television on to soothe the dog.

·         Get your dog checked once a year  by a veterinarian.  Underlying medical conditions can cause  a barking problem.

·         Get help from a professional dog trainer, if needed.

Allowing your dog to bark excessively in the City and County of Denver is an ordinance violation of D.R.M.C. 8-17 and could result in a Violation Notice, a monetary fine, or a mandatory court summons. Please help your dog and your neighbors by not allowing excessive barking.

To download the barking dog tips (in English and Spanish) click here.


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.


Find information about obtaining a business license for an animal shelter, pet grooming shop, kennel, pet shop, or pet hospital. 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.



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Denver, CO 80223

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