Animal Control

The following is a brief and legal summary of the City of Markham's Animal Control By-law taken from the City's By-law Guide for Markham Homeowners.

It explains, in plain language and with information links, what residents must know about specific City services and operations, which may affect a Markham homeowners' property.

Animal Control By-law Summary

In Brief

Although pets can be a delight to their owners, they can also be a cause of conflict among neighbours. In order to ensure that pet owners respect other residents, the rules for caring and keeping animals are very clear.

What You Must Know - Protecting and Caring for Pets

Animals in Markham must be provided with a clean, sanitary environment and adequate care that meets the physical and behavioural needs of the animal, such as food, water, shelter, warmth, physical exercise, attention and veterinary care.

Pets are not allowed to run about and create a nuisance, disturb neighbours or cause damage to property.

If your dog or cat is found running freely, it will be returned to your home if it’s wearing an identification tag, or taken to the Pound if it is not.

For animals kept on a tether (a chain, rope or other restraint), it must be of a length that meets the needs of the animal, provides unrestricted movement and cannot cause injuries. A dog’s tether must be a minimum of 3 metres (10’), provided this length does not permit the dog to go beyond the boundaries of the property.

The City can place a pet in temporary protective care for up to five days when the owner cannot, or will not, care for it. During this time, its owner may claim the animal after paying the costs from its stay in protective care; if not claimed, the animal will go to the City’s Pound.

The Pound assumes total responsibility for such animals, provides veterinary care if necessary, and has the right to put the animal to death if it’s not claimed or is too ill or injured to survive. It will be kept for at least five days (not including federal or provincial holidays). The owner must pay all costs incurred at the Pound before the pet can be taken home.

Get for more information on Markham Animal Licensing or call 905-479-7782.

Registering Your Dog or Cat

Within 30 days of becoming the owner of a dog or cat, you must register your pet, pay an annual licensing and tag fee, and provide a certificate that proves it has been vaccinated for rabies. In exchange, you will receive an identification tag that must always be displayed on the animal’s collar (this includes animals that have a microchip identification implant). This tag cannot be transferred to another animal.

The number of mature dogs (16 weeks and older) and cats (over 3 months old) that can be kept in each home is four, in any combination of:

  • two dogs and two cats; or
  • one dog and three cats; or
  • four cats.

If you owned more than this number before June, 2005--the date this by-law came into effect—you are automatically allowed to keep the pets for the rest of their life.

Special Rules for Dogs

See also Dog Owners' Liability Act Information Frequently Asked Questions.

Ontario’s Dog Owners’ Liability Act clearly outlines your responsibilities as the owner of a dog. Our City’s rules are based on this Act.

Dogs must be kept on a leash of 2 metres length (6 ‘- 6”) or less when off your property. You must always ‘Stoop and Scoop’ (clean up any feces it may leave) while walking your pet off your property.

You can take your dog off its leash where signs clearly show it is a leash-free area, or if someone you are visiting permits it on their private property. You are expected to keep your dog under control at all times, or restrain it, to prevent aggressive behaviour and biting. No dogs are permitted within 5 metres (16’- 4”) of a children’s playground or water-play area.

If your dog bites, and pierces the skin, you will be served with a formal warning (in person or by mail). This may include a ‘Notice to Muzzle’, which means:

  • you must tether or keep your pet in a fenced area while on your property,
  • only someone 16 years or older can take the dog off your property, and
  • it must wear a muzzle (a device that restricts the animal’s mouth) and be kept on a leash at all times.

A second offence will automatically result in this notice, and you may also be prosecuted.

Quarantine for Rabies

Your pet will be kept by the City (or at a private facility at your expense) for 10 days in quarantine, if it:

  • bites a person; or
  • is suspected of being exposed to rabies.

It will only be released with permission of the Medical Officer of Health or the Manager, By-law Enforcement and Licensing.

Keeping Other Types of Animals

  • Livestock, such as cows, pigs and sheep, cannot be kept in residential areas. You may not keep or trap wild animals within City boundaries unless you are permitted to do so by law. Contact the By-law Enforcement and Licensing Department at 905-479-7782 to find out if you qualify.
  • ‘Prohibited animals’ cannot be kept within City boundaries unless you have permission to do so. These include protected or endangered species. The list is long; it includes all wild dogs, cats and birds, venomous and poisonous animals, and certain reptiles and insects. Prohibited Animals (Exotic) list.
  • A member of a recognized pigeon club (one that is part of a national club) can keep up to 30 domestic pigeons or doves (not wild ones), as long as their ‘loft’, or cage is separate from the home and has at least 1 metre2 (10.78’ square) of space for every 10 birds. Each bird must wear a leg band that identifies its owner; they cannot stray onto any other property; and you must contact the Manager, By-law Enforcement and Licensing, if you intend to release the birds for planned activities.
  • Up to three mature rabbits (seven weeks or older) can be kept on any one property, but only as pets. An outside cage must be designed to keep them warm and prevent escape.
  • To keep doves and pigeons, or rabbits outdoors, your property must be large enough that their cage is at least 3 metres (10’) from your property boundary and at least 7 metres (23’) from any other home, shop or apartment building.

Animal Licensing Fees

  • Owners of dogs used as personal assistants (visual, hearing and physical disabilities) do not pay a licensing fee, as long as the dog has a microchip-identification implant and proof of its use is provided.
  • Pets specifically trained as companion animals or used for pet therapy in health-care or assisted living facilities are exempt from licensing fees. Written confirmation is required and the dog must have a microchip identification implant.
  • Fines for violating the Animal Control By-law run up to $100 and $5,000.00 under the Provincial Offences Act.

When in doubt, check it out! Help is always available.

For more information call the By-law Enforcement and Licensing Department at 905-479-7782 or email

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