Animal Control

Man holding puppy
The 20 cities and towns in San Mateo County contract with the County to operate a countywide animal control program.

San Mateo County Animal Control & Licensing
225 37th Ave  
San Mateo, CA 94403
Program Manager (650) 573-3726

The County contracts with the Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA (PHS), a private non-profit organization, to enforce all animal control laws, shelter homeless animals, and provide a variety of other services.

Services provided by Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA
12 Airport Blvd., San Mateo, CA 94401
1450 Rollins Rd., Burlingame, CA 94010
Telephone: (650) 340-8200

  • Rescue injured animals
  • Capture of at-large or stray animals
  • Investigate animal bites and attacks: if your animal has been attacked or has attacked another animal
  • Removal of dead animals from public property
  • Removal of dead or living wildlife from private property ONLY if such wildlife has direct contract with humans and/or animals that involves a bite or attack
  • Enforce leash laws and local ordinances (please report barking dog complaints to your local police)
  • Euthanasia of severely injured animals
  • Investigate reports of animal cruelty

To report sick or injured wildlife contact:

Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA
(650) 340-8200

Breeders & Fanciers

Any person who owns or harbors a cat or dog over the age of six months which has not been spayed or neutered, shall procure a permit for breeding cats or dogs issued by San Mateo County Animal Control under Section 6.12.030 of the Municipal Code.  This annual permit is required in addition to licensing the animals. Note: Not all cities in San Mateo County allow breeding and/or Breeder Permits.  Please check your city's ordinance.

Any person's property that is zoned to allow a person to harbor over four animals, dogs and cats, is also required to obtain a Fancier Permit from the Animal Control Program.  This annual permit is required in addition to licensing the animals. Note: Not all cities in San Mateo County allow Fancier Permits.  Please check your city's ordinance.

Breeder & Fancier Permits:

Dead Animals

Residents and business owners are allowed to place small, dead animals (i.e. birds, squirrels, gophers, etc.) found on their private property in a bag for their regular garbage pickup.  Landfills are licensed to accept them.

Larger animals found on private property cannot be placed in the garbage. The resident/business owner can call an animal removal company or bring the animals to the Peninsula Humane Society/SPCA 24/7 for disposal. There are two local animal removal companies who will provide this service: NorCal Wildlife Removal (650-477-9070) and Critter Control (408-203-8973). Both companies are independently owned and are not affiliated with San Mateo County. 

Peninsula Humane Society/SPCA will pick up any dead animal, domestic or wild, on public property for free.

Peninsula Humane Society/SPCA will not pick up animals on private property unless the animal is rabies suspect or involved in a bite attack.

Peninsula Humane Society/SPCA will not charge for domestic animal pick up on private property as long as the animal is not owned (a stray). They will pick-up domestic, owned animals on private property for a fee.

Peninsula Humane Society/SPCA will not pick up dead animals from freeways.  Freeways are 101, 280, 84 (Woodside Road), Highway 35 (Skyline Blvd.), Highway 82 (El Camino Real), Highway 92, and Highway 1 (Pacific Coast Highway).  Freeway pick-ups are handled by Caltrans, 650.358.4127.

Dead Animal Pick-Up:

Service Dogs Designation

The Service Animal designation in San Mateo County is in compliance with the US Department of Justice's definition of Service Animals.  The County designates animals as Service Animals when they have been individually trained to do work or perform physical tasks for people with disabilities.  Service Animals are working animals, not pets.  The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person's disability.  To request this designation, the Service Dog Identification Tag Application should be completed and submitted to:

County of San Mateo
Animal Control & Licensing
225 37th Ave., Room 17
San Mateo, CA 94403

Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as Service Animals under the American Disability Act (ADA) and San Mateo County does not designate or recognize these animals as such.

Below are some documents and a website to help answer some of the questions you may have regarding this designation.
1.  Commonly Asked Questions about Service Animals in Places of Business [PDF]
2.  ADA 2010 Revised Requirements [PDF]
3.  A Guide to Disability Rights Laws [PDF]

Service Animal Designations:

Rabies Vaccination Exemption Requests

State and local ordinances require the licensing of all dogs (and cats in some cities) as a means of rabies control.  In some instances, there may be a medical reason preventing the administration of the rabies vaccine due to the health of the animal.  The annual request must be made by your veterinarian using the Rabies Vaccination Exemption Request Packet.

For timely approval, please ensure the packet is complete.  Include the following:
1-page State of California "Rabies Vaccination Certificate - Exemption from Canine and Feline Rabies Vaccination form
b) 1-page San Mateo County Rabies Vaccination Exemption Supplemental Request form
c) your pet's microchip number, and
d) medical records relevant to the exemption request (no more than five pages).

Note:  Your annual licensing fees are due on the expiration date of the last vaccination your pet received.  During the review process of your Rabies Vaccination Exemption Request, you should pay your licensing fee on or prior to its due date to avoid the late penalty.

Rabies Exemption Requests:

Quarantine Requirements

Domestic, Wildlife and Human Contacts

The State of California has been identified by the State Health Department as a rabies endemic area.  The following information and requirements are in accordance with California State Law as prescribed by the County of San Mateo Health System.

Biting Domestic Animal (Cats and Dogs), report the incident to Animal Control (click on this link)
Any domestic animal which bites a person (a bite is defined as a puncture, pierce, or scratch inflicted by an animal's mouth in which blood is drawn) shall be isolated in strict confinement and observed.  Dogs and cats with current or expired rabies vaccinations are required to be quarantined for 10 DAYS from the date of the more

Exposed Domestic Animal (Cats and Dogs), report the incident to Animal Control (click on this link)
A domestic animal currently vaccinated against rabies that has been exposed to wildlife will be quarantined at home for 30 DAYS from the date of exposure.  A domestic animal not currently vaccinated against rabies that has been exposed to wildlife (and the wild animal is not available for testing) will be placed into quarantine for 6 more

Public Record Requests

Upon request, San Mateo County provides copies of public records under the guidelines of the California Public Record Act (Government Code Sec. 6250 et seq).  Payment of a fee to cover the cost of duplication ($.20/page) is due upon receipt of the records requested.

Requests can be sent to:

Contact Information and Forms

Licensing Questions or Inquiries: 

Spay/Neuter Voucher Requests: 

  • (650) 573-3940

San Mateo County Animal Services Guide