Wilmington, Delaware

  • A license is required for any person to have a dog over the age of 6 months. The license fee is lower for animals who are spayed or neutered.
  • All pit bulls over the age of 6 months must be spayed or neutered.
  • The breeding of pit bulls is strictly prohibited.

Sec. 3-9. – Licensing of dogs—Required; fees; exemptions; penalty for failure to license dogs.
(a) Generally. No person shall own, keep, or harbor any dog over the age of six months within the city limits unless such dog is licensed. Written application for such license shall be made to the division of revenue or such agents of the Delaware Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals or the Delaware Humane Society as shall be designated by the city, and shall state the name and address of the owner and the name, breed, color, age, and sex of the dog.

(b) Payment of yearly license fee.
(1) The yearly license fee shall be paid at the time of making application, a numbered receipt given to the applicant, and a numbered metallic tag shall be issued to the owner.

(2) There shall be a yearly fee for licensing dogs in the city of $10.00 per spayed or neutered animal or for a fee of $25.00 a three-year license may be obtained for a spayed or neutered animal. The yearly licensing fee for dogs in the city that are not spayed or neutered shall be $15.00 per animal or for a fee of $40.00 a three-year license may be obtained for an animal that is not spayed or neutered. The Delaware Humane Society and the Delaware Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and any other entity approved by the finance department to issue a license shall be entitled to retain $5.00 for each yearly license and $10.00 for each three-year license fee collected by them as reimbursement for their administrative costs.

(c) Proof of rabies inoculation required. All owners applying for a license must show to the satisfaction of the licensing authority that the animal for which the license is being obtained has been inoculated against rabies within the last two years.

(d) Proof of spay, neuter. Any owner claiming that his dog has been spayed or neutered must show to the satisfaction of the licensing authority that such operation has been performed.

(e) Exemptions from license fees. License fees shall not be required for Seeing Eye dogs, government police dogs or dogs belonging to a nonresident of the city and kept within the boundaries of the city for not longer than 30 days; provided, that all dogs of nonresidents shall at the time of entry into the city be properly vaccinated against rabies, and while being kept within the city, shall meet all other requirements of this chapter. Any owner claiming either of these exemptions has the burden of proving to the satisfaction of the licensing authority that the dog in question is used in one of such capacities.

(f) Penalties. Any owner harboring an unlicensed dog over the age of six months shall be fined $50.00. If the matter is before the count, in addition to this fine, the court shall order the defendant to obtain a license for the animal at the earliest possible time.

(Code 1968, § 22-2; Ord. No. 95-046(sub 1), § 1, 8-31-95; Ord. No. 02-122, § 1 (sub 1), 1-16-03)

Sec. 3-16. – Pit bull terrier dogs.
(a) Only persons 21 years of age or older who have complied with the licensing and registration requirements as set forth in section 3-9 of this chapter by June 16, 2000, shall be allowed to own, keep or harbor a pit bull terrier inside the city limits. Such ownership is subject to the following conditions:

(1) All pit bull terriers in the city must be licensed and registered by June 16, 2000. Newly acquired pit bull terriers or pit bull terriers belonging to people moving into the city must be licensed and registered within 30 days of the event. Documentation showing acquisition of the new dog (bill of sale or adoption contract) and/or relocation to the city, as evidenced by a signed lease or purchase agreement, will be required to register a pit bull terrier after June 16, 2000. Persons who do not license and register their pit bull terrier by June 16, 2000, shall, in addition to complying with the registration requirements, be assessed an additional $50.00 fee. For purposes of registration, the owner shall provide the following:

a. A photograph of the animal showing its size and color;

b. A registration fee in the amount of $30.00, ten dollars of which will go to the Delaware Humane Association if the dog is registered at that location;

c. Proof of owner’s age through valid state issued identification card (e.g., driver’s license) or certified birth certificate;

d. Proof of owner’s address through two documents, one of which must contain a photograph, the other being in the form of a utility bill, mortgage payment or lease;

e. Certification by a licensed veterinarian that the pit bull terrier has been neutered or is incapable of enduring neutering (in the case of a male dog) or the pit bull terrier has been spayed or is incapable of enduring spaying (in the case of a female dog). Under no circumstances shall a pit bull terrier who has not been neutered or spayed be registered, except where the dog meets the criteria of subsection (2) of this section. A provisional registration will be issued valid through the date the dog reaches six months of age if the pit bull terrier is incapable of enduring the procedure because it is too young as certified by a licensed veterinarian and all other registration requirements have been satisfied. The pit bull terrier shall be fully registered subject to undergoing the procedure within the effective period of the provisional registration; veterinarian certification shall be provided no later than ten days after the procedure has been performed while the provisional registration is in effect;

(7) Breeding of pit bull terriers in the city is strictly prohibited. For violations of this provision, all puppies shall be seized and become the property of the state S.P.C.A. for appropriate disposition. The provisional registration of the animal shall be revoked unless immediate action is taken by the owner to comply with the spay/neuter requirement, and fines shall be levied pursuant to section 3-16(d).

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind