Muddling through bureaucratic bullshit.
April 5, 2012 9:00 AM   Subscribe

[Oakland, CA law/ordinance filter] Please help me find full text of laws or ordinances regarding pet licensing in Oakland, California (Alameda County). And is what I'm doing REALLY illegal or is it bureaucratic nonsense?

I stopped by Oakland Animal Services to renew the license for my dog. (Obligatory pics) I happened to have him with me as we were on our way back from the vet where he'd just gotten his rabies shot, evidence of which I need to renew the license.

The woman at the counter said was charging me $5 for a new tag as she didn't see one on the dog. I explained and showed her that he was wearing a license tag, but it was on a flat tag I purchased that slides onto the collar instead of the dangling tag they give out. [I hate hate hate the jingle sound of dog tags and the collar-tag is easier to read.]

She got extremely agitated and loudly told me that it was "illegal to reproduce or transfer the number to anything else" and that the dog was required to wear the tag they provided. She said I needed to remove the flat collar tag with the number on it and wear their tag or I could be cited. WTF? FYI, the tag they provide is a bone-shaped piece of metal with a number stamped on it. That's it. It doesn't say "City of Oakland" or anything else - just a number. So that I didn't have to pay another $5 and just to calm the situation, I lied. I told her I had the tag at home and would put it on him. (But screw that!)

My tag has his name, a contact number and "LIC #123456" - So I'm curious now - is this really illegal? The whole thing seems damn silly to me. Her reaction just seemed so overblown and unnecessary. It's just a number. Does it really matter that it's on a flat piece of metal vs. a bone-shaped piece of metal that dangles?

I haven't been able to find the full text of dog ordinances in Oakland, any help is appreciated. The closest I could find to tag requirements is:

"Dog License (O.M.C. 6.04.030)

All dogs (four months or older) must be registered and
licensed and must wear a current license tag at all times. All
dogs must be vaccinated against rabies before a license may
be issued. Discounts are given for dogs that are spayed/neutered."

Does having the number on collar tag suffice as "A current license tag" or not?

All in all, it's not that big a deal - no one is checking and I simply won't take the dog back there, but I find myself repeatedly thinking about it even some time after the incident. So I'm really curious exactly what all the ordinances say, what I exactly I could possibly be cited for, and what the penalty might be if ever cited.
posted by crayon to Law & Government (9 answers total)
This lady acted like an asshat. I think you are rightly responding to her over-the-top handling of the situation, and the legality is kind of beside the point--as you say, no one is checking, you have the licensing info and records.

You're angry and resentful of her treatment of you, and that is perfectly appropriate. You might want to address those feelings by calling the office and speaking to her supervisor at Animal Services to complain. When you do that, you can also get clarification on the legal requirements.
posted by misha at 9:20 AM on April 5, 2012


The actual ordinance says this:

6.04.060 - Keeping dogs not licensed, registered and tagged.

It is unlawful for any person to have, harbor or keep, or to cause or permit to be harbored or kept, any dog in the city unless such dog shall be registered and licensed as provided in this title and shall have a collar or leather band attached thereon, on which there shall be a tag inscribed as required by this title; provided, however, that such collar or leather band need not be attached to such dog while such dog remains in the dwelling house of the owner or other person having custody thereof, or in an enclosed yard adjacent thereto.

So, in your yard it is okay to have the dog not even wearing the collar at home, but

6.04.100 - Transferring, counterfeiting and removing dog tags.

It is unlawful for any person to attach to or keep upon, or to cause or permit to be attached to or kept upon, any dog any tag provided for in Section 6.04.030 except a tag issued to him or her for such dog under the provisions of this title, or to attach to or keep upon, or to cause or permit to be attached to or kept upon, any dog, or to make or to have in possession any counterfeit or imitation of any tag provided for in said Section 6.04.030 or to take from any dog any collar or leather band or tag attached thereto, except as provided in Section 6.04.060.

So, yeah, you aren't supposed to transfer license info, but the spirit of that ordinance seems to be because of the concern for counterfeiting. You weren't trying to pass off the paper tag you had as the actual license tag.
posted by misha at 9:34 AM on April 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I took a quick look at the animal control regulations in Oakland's municipal code. I think you have to use their metal tag. However, I don't think you're required to have it "dangle" — the code only requires that your dog wear a collar or leather band "on which there shall be a tag."

The relevant sections are 6.04.020, which defines an "unlicensed dog" as one "to which the tag provided for in this title is not attached." Section 6.04.030 says "The city shall issue a metal tag plainly inscribed with words 'Oakland Dog License' and bearing the license number." Section 6.04.060 makes requires dogs to be licensed, registered, and tagged. To qualify as tagged, a dog must "have a collar or leather band attached thereon, on which there shall be a tag inscribed as required by this title." Finally, section 6.04.100 says it is unlawful to make or to make or possess "any counterfeit or imitation of any tag." So basically the municipal code requires dogs to wear a tag, directs the city to issue inscribed metal tags, and requires the use of the genuine tags (imitations not being permitted).
posted by RichardP at 9:35 AM on April 5, 2012

Oh, and the ordinance says that the city tag THEY are required to provide has to say, "Oakland Dog License" on it! That's here, under 6.04.30.
posted by misha at 9:36 AM on April 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Sorry, working link
posted by misha at 9:40 AM on April 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

The same no copying ordinance exists in the county my father lives in. He solved the dangling tags problem by riveting the tags onto a good quality nylon collar. He also had a second tag made with the name and contact info and riveted that onto the collar as well. Maybe you can do the same?
posted by PorcineWithMe at 10:07 AM on April 5, 2012

If it turns out your dog must wear his Officially Stupid Tag, there are bumpers which stop the jangling.
posted by jamaro at 11:02 AM on April 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

How about riveting the official city tag directly to Buddy's collar?
posted by xedrik at 1:04 PM on April 5, 2012

Thank you everyone for the help & answers, I really appreciate it.
posted by crayon at 10:44 AM on April 6, 2012

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