Frequently Asked Questions

Where is Animal Control located?

Animal Control is located at 3140 N Street which is in the Lincoln Lancaster County Health Department. The facility is near Woods Park at 33rd and O Streets.

Where is the Capital Humane Society located?

The Capital Humane Society is located at 2320 Park Blvd, which is approximately near 6th and South Street. Their phone number is 402-441-4488.

What are the hours of operation?

Animal Control Officers are on routine patrol from 7:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m. five days a week, 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. on Sat/Sun. There is also an officer on stand-by duty after 5pm on Sat/Sun to respond to calls such as injured animals, bites, and confined dog and cats. The office is open five days a week from 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. The office is closed on all City holidays and on weekends. You can call the office from 7:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m. (M-F), or 8:30 p.m. - 5:00 a.m. (Sat/Sun) for general information, license questions, to report lost and found animals, changes in address or ownership, or assistance.

Phone 402-441-7900
Fax 402-441-8626
TDD 402-441-7825

What services do you provide?

We regulate uncontrolled domestic animals, investigate bites and attacks by aggressive animals, investigate reports of animal nuisance and cruelty, pick up stray and unlicensed animals, rescue injured animals, pick up dead animals, keep records of lost/found cats and dogs, licensing of cats and dogs, enforce city ordinances, remove wildlife, give animal information and referrals, and promote responsible pet ownership through education.

How do I file a complaint?

To have an Animal Control Officer respond to a complaint, call the office at 402-441-7900. A dispatcher will dispatch an officer to investigate your complaint. If the officer sees a violation when he/she arrives, appropriate action will be taken. Because most animal ordinances are considered misdemeanors, our officers cannot take any legal action unless they actually witness a violation in progress. This does not mean nothing can be done about a violation. Citizens can fill out complaint forms and send them to Animal Control at 3140 N Street. An Animal Control Officer will then followup on the complaint or issue a citation. Information will then go to the City Attorney who will decide if charges will be issued.

How you can help us resolve difficult problems when an officer does not observe a violation?

If you provide good photographic evidence which shows a dog running at large for example, an Animal Control Officer may be able to issue a citation based on such evidence. If still pictures are taken, the photos should have the date, time, location, address of animal owner, and name of owner, if known on the back of the photo plus who took the photo. Videos need to have the date and time shown on the tape and attached paper explaining what is being shown, the location, address of animal owner, and name of owner if known. In case of a dog at large, the photographic evidence should clearly show the animal off the owners property.

Who do I call if I am missing my animal?

Go to the Capital Humane Society or call the Animal Control office at 402-441-7900. We will try to determine if an animal fitting the description of your animal was picked up and impounded. Please be mindful that it is very difficult to identify animals due to discrepancies and variations in descriptions. The best way to ensure the safe return of your lost animal is to have a city pet license on the animal.

In most cases, animals wearing tags can be returned to the owner instead of being impounded. If no one is home, the officer will leave a note on the door advising that the animal was picked up. If the officer is unable to access the pet tag information immediately and cannot leave a note, the owner will be notified by telephone as soon as the information is obtained. If the animal is wearing tags, the owner will be notified within twenty-four (24) hours. Please remember, animals will sometimes lose their tags or have them removed by someone. Even if your animal leaves home wearing a collar and tags, there is always a chance the collar may not be on when the animal is picked up.

Impounded animals are held for three days when picked up. You should also contact the Capital Humane Society at 402-441-4488. Even though they do not pick up animals, they will frequently take in a stray animal that has been found by a citizen and brought to their facility. They are located at 2320 Park Blvd near the intersection of 6th and South Streets.

What does it cost to reclaim my animal?

The impoundment fee to reclaim an animal is $40.00 for the first impoundment and $20.00 for each day the animal is held at the Capital Humane Society shelter. Cash, checks and credit cards are accepted for impoundment fees.

What are the rules on animals running loose?

No animal is permitted to roam free off the owner's property. This includes dogs, cats, and other animals. There are several ordinances that apply:

  • The "Animal at Large" ordinance states no animal is permitted to roam free. If an animal leaves the owner's or custodian's property, it must be under the control of a responsible person and wearing a city pet license, if applicable.
  • A dog can be loose on the owner's property if within a fenced enclosure or tied/picketed or if the owner is present outside and the dog is in visual sight. It is illegal to just open the door for the dog to go to the "bathroom" and wander about the neighborhood.
  • The "leash law" covers dogs only. This ordinance states that when a dog is being walked on any city sidewalk, city street or public right-of-way, it has to be on a leash or lead at all times. Dogs being walked on a leash must also be wearing a city pet license.

Cats are only allowed to roam if they are wearing a current city pet license and have been spayed or neutered.

When do animals need licenses and where can I get one?

All dogs, cats, and ferrets over the age of 3 months need a rabies vaccination and only dogs and cats need city pet license at 6 months of age. The rabies vaccination is given by your veterinarian. City tags may be purchased at the City Treasurer's Office, the Capital Humane Society, and Animal Control. To purchase a city tag, you must present proof of a valid rabies vaccination. If the animal has been spayed or neutered, you must also present written proof in order to get the tag at a reduced rate. For license fees, see the Permits & Licensing page.

Anyone bringing a dog or cat into the city has 30 days to purchase a city pet license if they intend to keep the animal in the city for more than 30 days. Licenses are due 1 year from the date of purchase.

How many animals can I own?

You are allowed to have up to 3 adult dogs (more than 6 months old) at one residence. A permit to own more dogs is available to those being annexed or in special zoned areas. There is a limit of 5 adult cats that can be kept at a residence. A maximum of 15 adult cats is allowed with two types of permits. Multi-cat household permit is required for more than 5 adult cats with the requirement all be spayed or neutered. If 2 or more adult cats are being housed at a residence that are not altered (not spayed or neutered), a cattery permit is required. All cats must be licensed and individuals with a permit can not allow their cats to run at large. These permits are available at Animal Control and do require a yearly inspection.

Can I have a pot-bellied pig for a pet and what animals are illegal to own?

Animal Control has restrictions on the types of animals that can be kept in the city. A pot- bellied pig is swine which is prohibited in Lincoln. Before acquiring any animal other than a dog or cat, be sure to check with Animal Control to make sure you can legally keep the animal in your neighborhood. Generally speaking the following are illegal: all poisonous snakes and reptiles including alligators and similar animals; all primates; all bears; all wild or exotic cats including hybrids; all wild canines and hybrids such as wolf crosses; and all wild native and exotic animals such as raccoons, skunks, otters, opossums, bats, deer, and antelopes.

Can I adopt a pet from Animal Control?

No, Animal Control does not adopt pets, this is a function of the Capital Humane Society. During the required holding periods for impounded animals, you can sign up on a waiting list for animals at the Humane Society. At the end of the holding period you will be notified and could adopt the pet at that time. Please check with the Humane Society regarding fees for adopting animals.

I've been bitten by an animal - what should I do?

All animal bites are to be reported. If you or any family member are bitten, call Animal Control at 402-441-7900 immediately.

This is a matter of public health and enforcement of these regulations is the responsibility of Animal Control. Any animal that bites someone must be placed in quarantine for a 10-day period and cannot be removed from the city unless permission is granted by Animal Control during this period. An Animal Control Officer will respond to complete the paperwork. If medical treatment is required, the doctor or hospital providing the treatment should report the incident. Every attempt should be made to identify the animal so the owner can be contacted and the necessary paperwork completed. If a wild animal is involved and cannot be located, you will be advised by Animal Control to determine what treatment is necessary.

My animal bit someone - what do I do?

The bite should be reported by calling Animal Control at 402-441-7900.

The animal must be placed in quarantine for a period of 10 days. This quarantine is required even if the animal has been vaccinated for rabies. You may be able to keep the animal at your home under certain circumstances and if the license and rabies vaccination are current. If you don't have a current license or a current rabies vaccination, you can either board the animal at a veterinarian's office or have it quarantined at the Humane Society. Boarding fees at veterinarian's vary and are the responsibility of the animal owner. The fee for boarding an animal at the Humane Society is $15.00 per day and is also the responsibility of the animal owner. After the bite report is completed, Animal Control will followup on the observation and release the animal from quarantine at the end of the quarantine period.

What do I need to know about distemper?
Photograph of a raccoon

Distemper is a virus commonly found in raccoons and is the number one cause of natural death in raccoons. Raccoons that have distemper can be commonly mistaken for having the rabies virus. A blood test is needed for positive diagnoses.

The most noticeable symptoms of the distemper virus are the last to set in. Neurological problems will occur when the disease process is coming to an end and causes the raccoon to come out of hiding and in the middle of the day. Raccoons at this phase of the virus have seizures that affect the entire body, are more aggressive, and will attack without being provoked. In the early stages of distemper raccoons will have a mucous like discharge coming from their mouths, eyes and noses.

The distemper virus cannot be transmitted from animals to humans however it can be easily transmitted from animal to animal. There a large number of raccoons that reside in the city and are often reported to Animal Control.

Pet owners are encouraged to have their dogs and cats vaccinated to prevent the possibility of them contracting the distemper virus. Report any raccoons to the Animal Control Division that are acting unusual or have symptoms as described above. The number is 402-441-7900.

If you are uncertain about your pet's vaccination status and/or if you have questions about your pet's health call your veterinarian.

What are the liabilities concerning property damage or personal injury and my pet?

Any property damage or personal injury caused by an animal is the responsibility of the owner of the animal causing the damage or injury per state statute. There is an ordinance relating to property damage or injury to another animal. However, there is no ordinance relating to personal injury or medical cost. Your options for recovery of personal injury expenses are home owners or health insurance coverage, small claim court, or a personal attorney.

What constitutes a "barking dog?"

The "Barking Dog" ordinance states that it is illegal for any dog to bark in a manner that disturbs the peace of the neighborhood. We are aware that dogs will bark when they see something or someone. However, they should not bark at every person walking by. We look for a cause of the dog's barking or whether the dog is barking for no reason.

When Animal Control receives a complaint, a license and rabies vaccination check is done. The normal procedure is to a send letter to the dog owner and make him/her aware of the complaint and a letter to the complainant advising what the next steps are. If the barking continues the complainant must call after 10 days and within 30 days.

An Animal Control Officer will then respond and try to get as close to the area as possible without letting the animal see or hear him/her. The officer will sit and listen to determine if a dog is barking in the area. Once the officer hears a dog barking, he/she will then try to determine if there is anything in the area causing the dog to bark. He/she will look for a letter carrier, children at the corner bus stop, etc. If there is something or someone causing the dog to bark, the officer will wait for the area to clear and see if the dog stops barking.

The officer will also contact neighbors to determine to verify your complaint. The officer will approach the residence and contact the dog owner, making them aware of the situation and advising them of the steps they must take to prevent the barking in the future (based on the officer's observation of the possible causes or the dog's behavior), and depending what the results of the investigation are, issue a citation. The complainant must be willing to testify in court for a citation to be issued.

What constitutes "cruelty to an animal?"

Pet owners must provide proper food, water, and adequate shelter for animals at all times. The animal must be fed at least once every twenty-four (24) hours and have clean, fresh, drinkable water available at all times. Shelter must be a structure that is adequate to provide protection from the weather, keep the animal dry, and well maintained. The size of the shelter must be in proportion to the size of the animal. Inflicting inhumane pain or suffering or failing to provide veterinary care also constitutes cruelty. Violations should be reported by calling Animal Control at 402-441-7900.

What constitutes a "potentially dangerous dog, a dangerous dog, and a vicious animal?"

A potentially dangerous dog is defined as any dog which, without provocation, attacks, bites, or threatens to attack human beings or a domestic animal on public or private property. A dangerous dog is any dog declared a potentially dangerous dog, inflicted a severe injury (requiring medical attention) on a human being on public or private property, or killed a domestic animal while at large. A vicious animal is an animal which has killed a human being or inflicted a severe wound or life threatening injuries, or has bitten a person or persons in a 12 month consecutive period 3 times (3 incidents) or had been previously declared a dangerous dog.

Does Animal Control relocate wildlife?

Wildlife often tries to coexist with us, even in residential and urban areas. Often our housing and businesses encroach on areas that have been habitat for groups of wild animals for years.

Animal Control will respond to any wildlife call involving an animal that appears to be sick, is threatening, or creates a public safety issue. Officers are not authorized to trap healthy or non-threatening wildlife simply for relocation.

Ten reasons NOT to trap and relocate wildlife

  1. It is not an effective solution. If you remove one animal from your property another will come to take its place.
  2. You will never succeed in eliminating wildlife from your property as long as you have a source of food or shelter. Fixing holes, capping chimneys, covering trash cans and removing pet food will eliminate wildlife much more effectively.
  3. Trapping is indiscriminate - you may trap your neighbor's cat or another animal unrelated to your nuisance problem.
  4. It's not fair. Where do we expect wildlife to exist? They are trying to adapt to life with us in their traditional environment, can't we show a little tolerance?
  5. It's illegal in the off season! Although widely ignored, all forms of trapping are legally limited to designated hunting and trapping seasons which are designed to allow mothers to rear young without harassment.
  6. It is highly stressful to be relocated. Most animals do not survive in unfamiliar territory. Resident animals will drive off the intruder or the animal will not know where to find food and shelter. A recent study shows more than 90% of relocated raccoons die within a short period of time.
  7. Even Humane Traps can injure animals - or they can injure themselves trying to escape during the hours they are confined to traps.
  8. Trapping out of fear is unfounded. Healthy wild animals have no interest in attacking you, your pets or your children. Their only reason for aggression is self-defense and their first choice is always to escape perceived danger.
  9. With a little effort we can coexist with wildlife. If they inconvenience you try to remember their only motive is survival. They have no concept of property or damage.
  10. Finally - when you trap and relocate someone's mother might not come home! From early spring until late fall the chances are 50/50 that the animal you trap is a mother whose babies depend on her for survival. Taking a mother away condemns the babies to starvation and death.
Does the city have a "poop scooper" ordinance?

Yes, the city does require the owner to clean up after his dog when walking or jogging with his or her pet. The owner must carry something to pickup and carry the dog waste which must be properly disposed of. There is also a sanitation ordinance which requires the owner to clean up the animal manure or feces every 5 days on his property and properly dispose of it.

Can I take my pet to the dog runs? Where are the dog runs?

The city provides 2 dog runs for owners to take their dogs to. One is located at 70th Street and Holmes Park Road and the other is located at 1st Street and Cornhusker Highway on the west side of Oak Lake.

My pet has died, how do I dispose of the body?

Deceased animals may be buried if you have an acceptable place available. An owner may bury the household pet on his residential property if such animal weights less than 150 pounds. The animal must be buried with 24 hours and covered by 4 feet of soil at the natural ground level. If this is not possible, the Humane Society provides a disposal service to citizens. The fee for Animal Control is $40.00 for delivery of dogs and cats to the Humane Society. To have an animal picked up call Animal Control at 402-441-7900.

Can I turn my pet into the Humane Society to find it a new home?

Yes, we do transport owner's animals to the Humane Society. We usually encourage people to turn their animals in at the Humane Society because they stand a better chance of finding a new home there. There is a $40.00 charge to the owner that turns their pet over to Animal Control.

My pet is old and sick and needs to be put to sleep - does the City do this?

No, this is not a service provided by the City. We do not have the authority or facility to perform this service for pet owners. This must be done by a licensed veterinarian or the Humane Society.

Can my dog ride in the open back of a pick-up?

Yes, it is currently lawful for any owner or custodian of a dog to allow such dog to ride in any motor vehicle or in any portion thereof that is open in such a manner to permit such dog to jump out of the vehicle or to be thrown therefrom by the acceleration of, stopping of, or accident involving such vehicle. This includes, but is not limited to, the open bed of a truck, the interior of a convertible vehicle with the top down or removed, the rear storage portion of a station wagon with the tailgate open, and the trunk or hatchback portion of any vehicle with the trunk or hatchback open. It may also ride in any portion of a motor vehicle which is fully enclosed, except for open windows. Even though it is legal, it is suggested by Animal Control not to take your pets with you in your vehicle.

However, if the dog is injured from being transported in this manner, you can be cited for cruelty, which has minimum fine of $250. Additionally, if the dog bites someone while left in the back of the pickup and not in an enclosure, you can be cited for having your dog at large.

What's the difference between Animal Control and the Humane Society?

Animal Control is a city agency and is a Division of the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department. As such, we are governed by all city policies and procedures. Animal Control Officers patrol the city streets, enforce animal related ordinances, and provides animal related service to the public.

The Humane Society is a privately owned non-profit organization and is independent from city control. The Society does have a shelter or kennel contract with the City of Lincoln for the boarding of impounded animals. The Humane Society operates primarily with private donations and private grants.

Where do I go to pay a fine for an animal violation?

Fines can be paid at the Clerk of Court's office which is located at 575 S. 10th Street. For information on the amount of a fine, you should contact the City Clerk's office at 402-441-7411.

How does Animal Control respond to calls?

Animal Control gives priority to situations that are involving the public health and safety of a person or a domestic pet. Loose aggressive dogs, bite animals at large, injured or sick stray dogs or cats, possible cruelty situations, and dogs running in heavy traffic or schoolyards are responded to before nuisance concerns. Overall average response time for all types of calls is approximately 30 minutes.

Can you recommend a veterinarian? Which one is the cheapest?

We cannot recommend one vet over another. We suggest that you ask friends and family to recommend a vet to you with whom they have been satisfied. As for the price, if you have specific procedures in mind, we suggest that you contact the various vet clinics.