License a Pet

Your pets must be licensed in Manatee County. Your pet (dog, cat or ferret) requires a yearly rabies vaccination and County license and failure to obtain this registration could result in fines as high as $1,000. Purchasing a license is not just the law, it is like taking out an insurance policy – if your pet ever gets lost, it can help ensure they’ll find their way home.

Annual Pet License Fees

Purchase at Animal Welfare for $20. To purchase a pet license tag, update your license information, or look up a tag of a lost pet, go to or call 855-332-4646.
To purchase any pet license, you must provide proof of a current rabies vaccination.  Vaccines can be administered at your local veterinarian. 

Free Ride

The Manatee County Free Ride Program is designed so that if your pets are picked up by one of our Officers, they will bring them home to you instead of putting them through the stress and expense of impound at the Shelter.


Fines for non-compliance

Failure to obtain rabies vaccination:

  • 1st offense - $200
  • 2nd offense - $250
  • 3rd offense - $500


 Failure to obtain license tag:

  • 1st offense - $200
  • 2nd offense - $350
  • 3rd offense - $500


Rabies Vaccination and Manatee County License Certificate and License Tag are Required. Rabies vaccinations are required by Florida State Statute and by Manatee County Ordinance. The rabies vaccination is the best defense in order to control rabies. Your veterinarian will provide you with a License Certificate and Manatee County License Tag. The Manatee County License Tag is the only recognized tag in Manatee County and is required by Manatee County Ordinance. The Ordinance also requires your pet wear the Manatee County License Tag.

The following definitions are related to this section of the ordinance to assist with understanding specific meanings:

  • LICENSE CERTIFICATE shall mean a document evidencing registration and vaccination for rabies of a dog, cat, or ferret residing in the County which contains at a minimum the information required by Section 828.30, Florida Statutes (2005).
  • TAG shall mean a current County issued or approved animal license tag.


The following sections are directly from Animal Ordinance 12-10, Section 2-4-4: Dog, Cat, and Ferret Rabies Vaccination Requirement; Medical Exemption:

A. Rabies Vaccination Required

  1. It is a violation of this Ordinance for the owner or custodian of a dog, cat, or ferret to fail to have each dog, cat, or ferret vaccinated with an anti-rabies vaccine, as required by this Section.
  2. Any person who owns a dog, cat, or ferret, four (4) months of age or older, shall have such dog, cat, or ferret vaccinated with an anti-rabies vaccine in accordance with Section 828.30, Florida Statutes (2005), as may be amended.  Dogs and cats shall be vaccinated annually for rabies; however, dogs, cats, and ferrets vaccinated by a veterinarian using a USDA approved triennial vaccine are considered currently vaccinated for the entire three (3) year period and will not be required to have an annual re-vaccination for the purpose of obtaining a license tag except that dogs and cats vaccinated at less than one year of age must be re-vaccinated with a booster one year after the initial vaccination.
  3. Proof of rabies vaccination in a form containing the information required by the registration certificate shall be provided to the owner and the Division by the vaccinating veterinarian.  Upon request, such certificate shall be made available to any officer or representative of any enforcement agency.  In the event the vaccinating veterinarian does not practice in Florida, other verifiable evidence of a current rabies vaccination as deemed acceptable by the Division may be substituted.

B. Medical Exemption

  1. A medical exemption from any vaccination requirement of the Ordinance may be granted by the Division if the following requirements are satisfied:
    1.  (a) A veterinarian examines the dog or cat and certifies in writing that at the time of such examination, in his or her professional opinion, administering the vaccination would endanger the health or life of the animal.  The veterinarian’s certification must include the basis for his or her opinion (e.g.: age, infirmity, disability, illness, or other injurious condition), the anticipated duration of this condition, and the dates of administration for the last occurring series of vaccinations or a statement that this information was not available; and
    2. (b) The dog or cat is registered with the Division within 30 days of the exam by submitting the veterinarian’s certification, completing any other required forms, and paying the applicable fee; and
    3. (c)  The dog or cat is securely and humanely confined.
  2. In no event shall any exemption granted pursuant to this section be in effect for more than one (1) year without recertification by a veterinarian.  As soon as the animal’s condition permits, it must be vaccinated and otherwise come into full compliance with the Ordinance.
  3. The Division must be contacted upon expiration or termination of the exemption and/or the animal’s condition and within fourteen (14) days provided proof of compliance with all vaccination requirements.


Section 2-4-5: Dog, Cat, and Ferret License Certificates and Tags; Requirements; Exemptions; Changes in Ownership:

A. Requirements

  1. Except as provided for in Section 2-4-5(B) of this Ordinance, all dogs, cats, and ferrets that are four (4) months of age or older must be licensed with the Division.  The length of time that such license certificate will remain valid may be based on the expiration of the animal’s rabies vaccination, but in no instance shall it be greater than one (1) year.
  2. Except as provided for in Section 2-4-5(B) of this Ordinance, all dogs and cats in the County that are at least four (4) months of age or older must have been issued a license tag.  The length of time that such tag will remain valid may be based on the expiration of the animal's rabies vaccination, but in no instance shall it be greater than one (1) year.
  3. The owner of a newly acquired dog, cat, or ferret that is at least four (4) months of age or older, shall have three (3) business days to license the animal and obtain a tag for the dog or cat, if no proof is provided that the animal has a current license certificate or tag.  This provision does not excuse the previous owner from any applicable license or tag requirements.  If the animal has a current license certificate and current license tag, both would be transferable to the new owner as required in Section 2-4-5(C).
  4. The County shall provide all license certificates and license tags.  Only such license certificates and license tags provided or approved by the County shall satisfy the requirements of this Ordinance.  The license tag shall be serially numbered.

B. Exemptions to License and Tag Requirements

  1. Visiting dogs, cats, or ferrets: The license and tag requirements of this Ordinance shall not apply to any animal that will only remain in the County for a period of 90 days or less and for which the Division is provided proof of domicile outside of the County; a current, valid certificate of rabies vaccination; and any applicable registration, required license, or permit required by the laws of the jurisdiction of domicile.
  2. The license tag requirement shall be waived for Division-approved cat caretaker organizations.

C. Changes in Owner Information

The person named as the owner and the address, as it appears on the registration certificate, shall be prima facie evidence of ownership and domicile of the animal.  The Division must be notified within ten (10) business days of any change in ownership or any other change in the information contained in the license certificate including the address or telephone.