Ordinances & Hearings

Kern County Animal Services exists to protect the public health and safety of Kern County residents and to promote the general welfare of the citizens and to ensure that the animals residing within the unincorporated area of the county are treated humanely. Animal ownership is encouraged and welcomed within this county; however, strong emphasis is placed on responsible ownership of animals. Animal owners are encouraged and required to respect the rights of their fellow residents and to behave responsibly concerning the care of their animals. Primary responsibility is placed upon animal owners to properly maintain and/or secure their animals so as to prevent the animals from causing injury and/or creating a nuisance (Kern County Ordinance 7.08.005). 

Animal-Related Ordinances

The majority of animal-related ordinances governing the unincorporated areas of Kern County are located in Title 7 of the Kern County ordinances. Kern County's Title 7 ordinances cover a wide variety of requirements, restrictions, and specific allowances that govern the treatment of animals. Some incorporated jurisdictions (cities) within Kern County limits maintain their own ordinances that govern actions and behaviors regarding animals. California State law governs some areas of animal issues and some cities use State law rather than creating their own ordinances. Some State laws governing animals are located under the Food and Agricultural Code and some are under Health and Safety.

Some of the more commonly-referenced Kern County ordinances regarding animals are listed below:

  • All dogs over 4 months of age are required to have a current dog license and rabies vaccination. (7.08.020 & 7.08.030 & 7.08.050 & 7.08.060)

  • Any person that buys or sells, boards, trains for a fee to do work, or breeds more than 1 litter of dogs or cats per year intentionally or unintentionally is considered a Commercial Animal Facility. To operate a Commercial Animal Facility, a permit to do so must be obtained through Kern County Animal Services prior to operating. (7.08.040)

  • The owner of any animal that bites any person, and any person or entity that treats any person for an animal bite is required to report the circumstances to Kern County Animal Services. (7.08.080)

  • There are specific requirements for the treatment of domesticated animals.  (7.08.110)

  • A "Leash Law" exists that makes it illegal for an owner to allow their dog to be on private property of another person or on public property without consent. All dogs are required to be restrained to protect persons, other animals, and property from damage. (7.08.150)

  • An animal may be deemed Dangerous, Potentially Dangerous, or Vicious when there is evidence to believe that the animal(s) pose a potential hazard to the health and safety of humans, other animals, or property. The designation of Dangerous, Potentially Dangerous, or Vicious is typically determined through an administrative hearing that is presided over by an administrative hearing official. The conditions that may allow for a designation, requirements after a designation, and applicable exceptions can be found in sections 7.08.270 through 7.08.293.

  • It is illegal to allow an animal to create a nuisance situation through barking or other noise. The determination of when a "nuisance" exists is based on satisfactory proof to the director or designee. (7.08.380)

All Ordinances

All Kern County animal-related ordinances (Title 7)

Administrative Hearings

Request for Administrative Hearing citation (PDF)

Request for Administrative Hearing non-citation (PDF)

Request for Hardship Waiver (PDF)