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Government > Departments > Public Safety > Animal Control > Frequently Asked Questions
Government > Departments > Public Safety > Animal Control > Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I report complaints or request information?

Contact us Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 850-606-5400, or report your complaint through Citizen Connect. Animal Control Officers are dispatched with service requests throughout the day and will respond as soon as possible, taking into consideration the priority of the call. All calls not responded to the same day are typically completed the following day.

How can I get assistance after normal office hours and on holidays?

Contact us through the Consolidated Dispatch Agency at 850-606-5800. A dispatcher will ask a few questions and if the information provided meets the emergency criteria for a response, the dispatcher will contact the Animal Control Officer working that day and forward the information. An Animal Control Officer is available after hours every weekday, weekend, and holiday. Officers respond to emergencies only after hours and on weekends, and emergencies will be answered as soon as possible after contacting Consolidated Dispatch.

How do I find out who complained about my pet?

Complaints are public records and are available upon request. Contact our office or email your request to to obtain an copy of the complaint.

If I call in a complaint, can I be anonymous?

All calls coming into this office are subject to the public records laws and are subject to public inspection. There are exceptions, such as information identifying juveniles, medical information, and information about ongoing criminal investigations in which a violator has not yet been charged with the crime. We do not give information about complainants over the telephone or in the field, but anyone wanting that information can come to our office to obtain the information.

Where are animals from the unincorporated area housed?

At the Tallahasse-Leon County Animal Services Center, 1125 Eastwood Drive, near Tom Brown Park. The City manages the animal shelter. Leon County contracts with the City to house animals from the unincorporated area of the County, so all animals, with the exception of livestock, are housed at the animal shelter.

Where do wildlife and livestock go for care?

All wildlife calls are referred to local wildlife removal companies or local wildlife rehabilitators. All livestock is transported to a facility determined by the Leon County Sheriff’s Office.

What about animal control in the City?

The City of Tallahassee provides full-service field services within the City limits with an ordinance different from the County. There is only one animal shelter in the community, and all animals found or brought in from anywhere in Leon County are housed there. Call 850-891- 2950 for current shelter hours.

What kind of training do Animal Control Officers receive?

Pursuant to state law, all Animal Control Officers must successfully complete a minimum 40-hour Basic Animal Control Officer Certification Course prior to issuing citations, although other services can be provided prior to certification. Leon County Animal Control staff are required to obtain an average of four additional hours of training each year. Leon County Officers receive other training, such as Chemical Immobilization Technician Certification, and national certification in cruelty investigations. Some Officers have specialties, such as national certification as Horse Abuse Investigators, as well as national certifications as general Cruelty Investigators.

Does the County permit ride alongs for citizens interested in learning more about animal control?

Yes. Ride alongs offer an opportunity to see first hand how animal control laws are enforced and how services are provided. Ride alongs may be scheduled for weekday or weekend shifts. Adults 18 and over must sign a Waiver of Liability prior to the ride along. Mature teens over 16 can also ride along, if their parent or guardian gives permission and signs a Waiver in person at the Division's office. Call to schedule a day and time. During the ride along, remember to wear comfortable, casual clothing, and be prepared to stay out for four to six hours.

Citizens wishing to ride along with an Officer must understand that animal control field work can be emotionally and physically challenging, and sometimes dangerous. We have regular contacts with hostile, emotionally upset, or mentally unstable persons. Officers occasionally confront violators with a history of violence to people and/or animals. Work is done in all kinds of weather. Officers also regularly handle dangerous, injured, or rabid animals. Citizens will not be able to handle the animals impounded by Officers, and because of safety reasons, are not allowed to help capture or restrain animals.

What is a citation, and how does it differ from a Notice or warning?

A Notice is provided to complainants and owners to advise them of the nature of the complaint against an owner, the results of the Officer's visit, and corrective actions to be taken when necessary to resolve a problem.

Warnings can take the form of verbal instructions to an owner or through written instructions to an owner by means of a Notice. There is no fine involved when warnings are given.

Citations are notices of a violation of law which result in fines or court appearances. Citizens receiving citations can contest the citation to the County Court or pay the fine. Citations are similar to traffic tickets issued by law enforcement officers. Failure to contest the charge(s) or pay the required fine will result in the Court entering a judgment against the owner and/or the Court issuing to the owner an Order to Show Cause why the owner has not responded to the Court's directive. Failure to obey a Court's directive can result in the Judge charging the owner with Contempt of Court. This charge may result in additional fines or arrest.

Signing and accepting a citation issued by an Officer is mandated by state law. Failure to do so is a misdemeanor. Signing and accepting a citation is not an admission of guilt, but an acknowledgment of the charge(s) against the owner and a promise to answer to the charge, either by paying the fine or by contesting the charge in County Court, thereby requesting a hearing before a Judge.

I came home to find a Notice on my door about my animal being a problem. I do not have a pet. Why did I receive this Notice?

Officers leave Notices at the homes of known and suspected owners. Sometimes, complainants point out houses to an Officer where they think the offending animal lives, even when they are not sure. The Officer leaves a Notice if the suspected owner is not home. If you do not have a pet, you can contact our office and we will return to the area to try to find the right owner and we will remove any reference from the record that you are the owner.

How do bites get reported?

Animal bites or rabies exposures to potentially rabid animals, and scratches from wildlife and cats should be reported to the Leon County Health Department at 850-895-8360. A Health Department representative will contact the owner and victim to complete a Bite Report. The animal(s) involved may be quarantined and/or tested for rabies. There are no quarantine protocols for domestic pets which bite other domestic pets.

Domestic pets, when involved in bites, are typically quarantined for 10 days from the date of the bite or exposure, including the day of the bite or exposure. Quarantines generally require confinement at the owner's home to prevent the animal from wandering, or from coming into contact with people or pets which do not live in the same household. Home quarantines are typically permitted in cases where the animal involved was not in violation of any of our animal ordinance requirements. If animals are not quarantined at home, they are confined at a veterinary hospital or the animal shelter. Quarantine sites are based on the circumstances of each incident on a case-by-case basis. Quarantine costs are borne by the owner.

In rabies exposure cases involving wildlife, wildlife is generally not quarantined. Raccoons, foxes, bobcats, bats, and skunks are always tested if they can be identified, caught, and picked up by Animal Control, even if they are deceased. Other wild or exotic animals are quarantined or tested on a case-by-case basis.

If animals are tested for rabies, Leon County Animal Control or Leon County Health Department personnel will contact the affected parties with the test results upon completion of the testing. Health Department personnel will notify the victim when quarantined animals are released from quarantine or if they become sick or die during quarantine.

If a domestic animal/pet is involved with a potentially rabid wild animal and the domestic pet is currently vaccinated against rabies, the Health Department may allow a 45 day quarantine at the owner's home. The pet is usually revaccinated against rabies immediately going into quarantine.  The Health Department will check back periodically to ensure that the animal is properly quarantined and still appears healthy. If the quarantine is completed successfully, Health Department personnel will contact the owner at the end of the 45-day period to release the animal from quarantine.

If the domestic pet is not currently vaccinated against rabies, a 180-day home quarantine is typically conducted. The animal is vaccinated for rabies immediately going into quarantine, and again one month before quarantine release. The Health Department will check back periodically to ensure  the animal is properly quarantined and still appears healthy.  If the quarantine is completed successfully, Health Department personnel will contact the owner at the end of the quarantine period to release the animal from quarantine.

In both cases, quarantines are strictly enforced. Home quarantines are not an owner's right, but a courtesy extended to responsible owners.   All quarantines at locations other than the owner's home will be at the owner's expense.

If bite animals are not  located for quarantine or testing, we recommend contacting the Health Department to discuss post exposure treatment at (850) 895-8360. 

What vaccinations do my pets need?

Pursuant to law, only rabies vaccinations are required, and they are required for both cats and dogs beginning at four months of age. Vaccinations administered by an owner are not recognized as valid. By law, only licensed veterinarians may vaccinate an animal against rabies. In the unincorporated area, we recognize the vaccine for its duration, so if the vaccine is of a one-year duration, we recognize it for one year. If the vaccine is of a three-year duration, we recognize it for the full three years. A new rabies tag must be obtained each year so that pets are wearing current rabies vaccination tags.

Other vaccinations are important for your animal's health. Many preventative vaccinations are lifesaving, such as those given to prevent distemper, parvo, and feline leukemia. Preventative heartworm treatment is imperative for dogs. Consult your veterinarian.

Can you recommend a good veterinarian?

We do not make specific recommendations. Consult your telephone directory. Two clinics are open nights for emergencies. There are many fine clinics in this area with exceptional staff members. Treat selection of a veterinarian as you would your physician. We recommend that you discuss you pet's needs, history, and financial arrangements with prospective clinics and make a selection from those that meet your, and your pet's, needs.

What opportunities are available as a volunteer?

View Leon County volunteer opportunities through VolunteerLEON.

An Animal Control Officer picked up an animal on my street. I'm thinking about adopting it. How do I do that?

All animals are impounded at the Animal Service Center. Contacting the Animal Service Center to let them know you are interested is the best option for possibly adopting or fostering an animal. All pertinent information can be found on the Tallahassee-Leon County Community Animal Services website.

My pet has been impounded. What do I do now?

All animals are impounded at the Animal Service Center. Contacting the Animal Service Center to find out what fees may be associated with reclaiming your pet and scheduling an appointment to do so should be arranged through them. All pertinent information can be found on the Tallahassee-Leon County Community Animal Services website.

My pet is missing. I don't know where to begin. Can you help me?

Contact the Animal Service Center. Numerous animals are picked up by both citizens and Animal Control Officers and brought to the Animal Service Center every day. The Animal Service Center has a Lost and Found Coordinator who takes found animal and lost animal reports and posts photos of animals on the website whenever possible. More answers to your questions regarding lost animals may be found on the Tallahassee-Leon County Community Animal Services website.

I found a stray pet. I don't know where to begin. Can you help me?

If you find a stray animal, you can contact our office at 850-606-5400 and we can attempt to pick up the animal. You can also contact the Animal Service Center and report the found animal to the Lost and Found Coordinator at 850-891-2950 or on the Tallahassee-Leon County Community Animal Services website. You can also post the stray animal via social media or through your neighborhood app.

What can I do about my pet's behavior problems?

Training is the key to modifying poor behaviors. Patience and consistency are important for successful training and behavior modification. There are many local trainers in our area that can assist you. It is best to start early when your pet is a puppy. Contrary to popular belief, it is never too late to start a good training program. You can also contact some of the local animal rescue groups in our area to see if they have any recommendations for a trainer.

Most pets turned into shelters are relinquished because of behavior problems, most of which are minor in nature and easily corrected. If you are going to be a responsible, good owner, you must be prepared to take the time to train your pet and maintain that training. Training makes your pet easier to live with, happier, better adjusted, and a welcome community member.

What kind of dog do you recommend for my kids?

Choosing the correct pet for your family depends on your lifestyle. Factors to consider are how often you are home to interact with your pet. Dogs are very social and will want to be with you and cats can be social but often do well when there isn’t a lot of interaction. Some breeds are very energetic, some require constant grooming, and some have genetic issues that evolve over time and may require more veterinary care. Researching the breed you are interested in prior to buying or adopting an animal is the best way for you to find the animal that fits into your lifestyle.

What do I do with an animal I can no longer keep?

We recommend screening new homes yourself, with relinquishment to the Animal Shelter as a last resort. Ask good questions of potential owners, such as their intentions for housing and care, their knowledge of the breed, and how much attention, grooming, and exercise they are going to provide.

If you are unable to find another home, the animal may be taken to the Animal Shelter. We recommend that you do so in person, so that you are able to give the staff at the shelter the types of information they need to match the pet to another home. Shelter staff will do their best to re-home the pet, but do not take sheltering lightly. Be aware that no animal is guaranteed a home. Animals not adopted are euthanized.

If you give up your pet to the shelter and then change your mind, you may be able to reclaim the pet if it has not been adopted. If it has been adopted, it is too late to reclaim it, unless the new owner returns the pet to the shelter voluntarily. Contact the shelter at 850-891-2950 for more information or visit the Tallahassee-Leon County Community Animal Services website.

What do I do about the dangerous dog in my neighborhood?

Contact our office and an Animal Control Officer will respond. If the owner is receptive to more carefully controlling the animal, the problem may be resolved immediately. State law and local ordinances provide for a process of classifying animals as dangerous if their behavior, as defined in law, presents a physical threat to humans and domestic animals.

A Dangerous Animal Petition form is available through our office and through Animal Control Officers in the field. Petitions must be completed and notarized prior to submission to Animal Control. An investigation will be conducted into the allegations.

After the investigation is completed, the Director of Animal Control will make an initial determination as to whether the animal's behavior is dangerous as defined in law. If the Director makes the initial classification, the owner is notified in writing. The owner has seven days to request a hearing before a Classification Committee, at which time the petitioner, owner, and any witnesses are sworn in and interviewed. The Classification Committee is made up of three members; one Leon County Sheriff's Office representative, one local veterinarian, and one citizen. The proceeding is informal but recorded. A majority vote of the Committee members is required for classification. If the Committee votes to classify the animal, the animal is ordered permanently confined or euthanized, depending upon the history of the animal and the severity of the attack(s). The owner can appeal the Committee's decision to Circuit Court. The animal must be confined in a manner approved by Animal Control during the appeal process.

My neighbors don't clean their dog's pen and it smells. What can be done?

Owner's are required to maintain good sanitation for their pets, both for the pet's sake and for the neighbor's sake. We can contact the owner and advise them of their options. If the owner chooses not to clean up the pen to prevent a sanitary nuisance, we can issue a citation to the owner for violating the County's Animal Control Ordinance. Another option is to contact the Environmental Health Section at the Leon County Public Health Unit at 850-895-8360. Contact us first. If we are unable to resolve the issue, the Health Unit may be able to invoke state sanctions.

What do you do about animals whose owners have abandoned them?

Contact us for assistance. If the animal appears to be healthy and has shelter, we can feed and water it, leaving a 24-hour notice for the owner or caretaker to contact us. If, after 24 hours, we have not been contacted, an Officer will check back. The Officer, based on the circumstances, can impound the animal for its own safety when the 24-hour notice is left, or after the call back if we have received no response. The animal will be held the usual holding period, unless sooner redeemed by the owner. We will do a follow up to make sure the animal is being cared for.

Some animals are truly abandoned. In other cases, neighbors don't see visits by owners or caretakers and presume the worst. Contact us first. We would rather respond to a false alarm than miss the opportunity to rescue an animal in distress.

Do you respond to livestock complaints?

We investigate their neglect or abuse, and assist the Leon County Sheriff's Office in their capture and transport to the livestock holding facility. Nuisance livestock calls are handled through the Leon County Sheriff's Office at 850-922-3300.

Will an Animal Control Officer contact me when he or she has completed the services I requested?

Generally, unless a caller is anonymous or requests not to be contacted, the Officer will contact you before or after the call has been worked to let you know what has been done. You can also call in the following work day and request that information.

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