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Stoop and scoop

Dog waste is a public health hazard, takes the pleasure out of outdoor activities and pollutes the environment. Help improve public opinion of dogs and dog owners - make it a habit to pick up after your dog and to take the waste home to dispose of it on your own premises. The City encourages flushing pet waste down the toilet, as it will be properly treated at the sewage plant. Dog owners can also place the waste in their green bin as long as it is properly wrapped in absorbent paper and placed in a sealed, leak proof bag. Failure to pick up after your dog is a by-law offence. Failure to take it home and dispose of it on your own premises is also an offence under the Animal Care and Control by-law.

By-law Services staff is also currently working with Public Works and Services staff on identifying alternatives and determining costs and feasibility of placing special receptacles for pet waste in parks.

Limits on the number of dogs and cats

The limits on the number of dogs and cats, over 20 weeks of age, per household within the City of Ottawa are as follows:

  • three dogs in all areas of the City
  • five cats in areas not zoned agricultural
  • where both dogs and cats are kept, a total of five animals, with a maximum of three dogs
  • no restriction on the number of cats kept in areas zoned agricultural

Discover how to protect yourself and others from vicious dogs and which communities allow dogs to have their day in the park.

Do you have more creatures to care for? Find out which provisions apply to exotic animals.

Spaying or neutering your pet

Being a responsible pet owner includes having your pet spayed or neutered (sterilized). A controlled pet population lowers the incidence of disease, and — in the long term — reduces the cost of animal control. Proof of sterilization reduces the cost of registering your pet and must be submitted with your registration form. This proof includes one of the following:

  • Spay/Neuter Certificate received following the surgery
  • Signed note from a qualified veterinarian
  • Copy of an invoice from a veterinary facility identifying the animal as spayed or neutered
  • Copy of your adoption agreement, as applicable

Advantages of spaying your female pet:

  • Eliminates the heat cycle and associated symptoms such as crying, nervous pacing, the desire to roam and the excretion of blood
  • Stops unwelcome visits by male suitors
  • Reduces the risk of breast cancer, one of the most common malignancies in the female feline
  • Prevents diseases of the uterus and ovaries as well as some skin disorders

Advantages of neutering your male pet:

  • Reduces or eliminates the tendency to mark territory with strong-smelling urine
  • Prevents prostate disease and certain cancers
  • May reduce the likelihood that your pet will stray from home and become lost or injured

Common myths about spaying or neutering

Spaying or neutering my pet will cause obesity — False. Exercise and proper diet will keep your pet healthy and active.

My female pet needs to have a heat period and litter to round out her personality. — False. There is no proven benefit in allowing the animal to have a heat period or a litter prior to spaying.

During the surgery

A qualified veterinarian must perform both types of surgeries. The procedures are performed under full anaesthesia and sterile conditions.

The spaying of a cat or dog involves the removal of the female reproductive tract. The neutering of a cat or dog involves the removal of the male testes. These surgeries can be performed on cats 5 months or older, and dogs 5 months or older.

Private veterinary clinics also offer spay/neuter services. Check the Yellow Pages for complete listings or consult with your own veterinarian for details on this important aspect of responsible pet ownership.


Thousands of stray dogs and cats are brought to the municipal pound each year because these animals don’t have – or aren’t wearing – identification tags. About 70 per cent of dogs and 10 per cent of cats are claimed by their owners. Many unclaimed pets find new homes through the Ottawa Humane Society's Adoption Centre. Microchips provide a permanent means of pet identification. Microchips store owner information, which is used to return your lost pet to you. The Ottawa Humane Society holds microchip clinics on a regular basis. Private veterinary clinics and the City's Spay/Neuter Clinic also offer microchipping services.

Why microchip my pet?

  • Permanent: A microchip is good for the life of your pet.
  • Painless: This tiny chip can be placed under the skin while your pet is asleep for other procedures such as spay/neuter.
  • North American-Wide Protection: Your pet’s information is accessible by any scanner in North America and can even be transferred internationally.
  • Pay only once: A one-time fee protects your pet for life.
  • Even indoor pets can escape: Be safe and microchip your pet!

Pit Bulls

What is a “pit bull”?

Under the Province’s Dog Owners’ Liability Act, "pit bull” includes, (a) a pit bull terrier, (b) a Staffordshire bull terrier, (c) an American Staffordshire terrier, (d) an American pit bull terrier, (e) a dog that has an appearance and physical characteristics that are substantially similar to those of dogs referred to in any of clauses (a) to (d).

Item (e) does not include a purebred dog of another type where the owner provides proof thereof, such as breed/kennel club registration papers.

Registering “restricted pit bulls”

Considering the Province’s Dog Owners' Liability Act and associated regulations banning "pit bulls" and regulating existing "pit bulls", the City may only register/license “pit bulls” which:

    1. were owned by an Ontario resident prior to August 29th, 2005 or
    2. were born in Ontario prior to November 28th, 2005.

Such dogs are referred to as "restricted pit bulls", more commonly known as "grandfathered". These "pit bulls" may remain in Ontario.

The City may not legally register/license “pit bulls” which do not fall within the above-noted category. Such dogs are referred to as "prohibited pit bulls".

Additional information on the provincial legislation may be obtained from the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General.

For more information on the municipal role with respect to the legislation, contact Christine Hartig, By-law & Regulatory Services, at 580-2424, ext. 25629.

Proof required to register a “restricted pit bull”

The applicant is required to provide proof that the animal is a restricted pit bull.  Copies of previous Ontario pet registrations, veterinary records, animal shelter claim or adoption records, breeder records, or family photos of the same dog may be used as proof of the dog's status, i.e. date of residence or birth.

Dog Owners Liability Act (plus Pit Bull Ban)

Pit Bulls and the Dog Owners Liability Act (DOLA)

In 2005, the Province of Ontario amended the Dog Owners' Liability Act (DOLA) to include broad powers to deal with dangerous dogs in general, as well as a ban on new pit bulls and restrictions on existing pit bulls.

The amendments prohibit anyone from owning, breeding, transferring, importing, fighting or abandoning pit bulls in Ontario. The definition of a pit bull under the Act includes: pit bull terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, American pit bull terrier or a dog that has an appearance and physical characteristics that are substantially similar to any of the aforementioned dogs.

Pit Bulls owned prior to August 29, 2005 or born within 90 days of August 29, 2005 were “grandfathered” and permitted to remain in Ontario provided that the owner can prove that the pit bull was in Ontario prior to, and pit bull owners must also comply with all other regulations under the Dog Owners' Liability Act.

City of Ottawa

The City of Ottawa does not enforce the provincial ban on pit bulls. Within the City, the Animal Care and Control By-law (By-law 2003-77) is the primary tool to govern dogs of all breeds. Pet owners should be aware of their responsibilities under this by-law and must register their animals accordingly. This includes all types of pit bull or pit bull mixes.

Pet registration and licensing provides a means by which any pet can be identified and returned home safely if it becomes lost.

Dog Attacks

Restricted pit bulls must be leashed and muzzled in public, and spayed or neutered. The onus of proof that a dog is not a pit bull, or that it is a restricted or "grandfathered" pit bull, will lie with the owner of the dog.

Charges can be brought against any dog owner whose dog has bitten or attacked or behaved in a manner that poses a menace to the safety of persons or domestic animals or where the dog owner did not exercise reasonable precautions to prevent a dog from doing any of the aforementioned.

If a pit bull owner is found to have contravened a provision of the Dog Owners' Liability Act or their dog has bitten, attacked or posed a menace to public safety, a mandatory destruction order will be issued by the Court.


Penalties under the Dog Owners' Liability Act include:

  • $10,000 fine and or six months in jail
  • $60,000 fine for corporations
  • Restitution orders requiring convicted persons to make compensation to the victims.