Well Pet Services

So, you’ve found your fur-ever friend. And you want your canine or feline pal to have the best life possible — healthy, happy, safe. That’s exactly what the Santa Cruz SPCA wants for you, too. Check out the information on this page to learn why licensing,                  microchipping, spay/neuter, and up-to-date vaccinations are essential to your pet’s wellness (and in some cases required by law) — and how you can connect with these resources.

By law, all dogs over three months of age must be licensed. This requirement applies to all dogs living in Santa Cruz County, regardless of whether they reside in a city or unincorporated area. If your dog is unlicensed you can be cited and fined $100.

Licensing is controlled by the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter. For more information regarding licensing or licensing laws visit their website or call 831-454-7200.

Download License Application

Dog licenses are considered permits mandating specified responsibility and privileges of ownership.

Dog Licensing:

  • Helps reunite lost pets with their owners. There are more than 90,000 dogs in Santa Cruz County. Less than one-third are reunited with their owners. A license can be a ticket home for a lost dog and can be traced 24 hours a day, every day of the year by an on-call animal control officer in any part of the county. Prior to the dog license, dog owners were only required to have a current rabies tag on their dog. Rabies tags could only be traced through the issuing veterinary clinic and only when the clinic was open.
  • Ensures that dogs are vaccinated against rabies, a fatal disease. Reminders are sent to owners to revaccinate their pet prior to the rabies vaccine expiration date.
  • Protects pet owners and their animals by tracking dangerous and aggressive dogs and habitual offenders of animal laws.
  • Reduces the number of unwanted animals by encouraging owners to spay and neuter pets by differential fees.
  • Provides additional revenues to Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter, funding the rescue, shelter and care for the county’s lost, unwanted, injured, abandoned, and mistreated animals.
  • Provides important information on pet populations in cities and can affect how government resources are allocated to fund animal-related programs.

Microchipping FAQs

What is a microchip?

A microchip is a small RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) device, not much bigger than a large grain of rice, which veterinarians can implant into many different types of pets— from reptiles and birds to cats and dogs. The microchip carries a unique ID number linked to the owner’s contact information that when read by a microchip scanner can quickly and easily shed light onto where the pet belongs. Microchips are NOT tracking devices. The procedure to implant a microchip is quick, easy, and relatively painless, similar to a vaccine injection; the chip is placed under the skin between the animal’s shoulder blades. It’s a permanent form of ID that last for the life of the animal. The Santa Cruz SPCA makes sure that every animal adopted out is microchipped.

Why should I microchip my pet?

More than three million cats and dogs are euthanized at animal shelters around the United States each year. A large percentage of these animals enter shelters as strays and are not claimed in time. While collars and tags come off (or are not put on in the first place), microchips are forever, and they can be a ticket to life if your animal ends up in a shelter. If every dog and cat were Microchipped, we would see a drastic drop in euthanasia rates — and many more emotional reunions. Microchipping is one solid solution for making sure your pet is returned to you if ever you find yourself in a similar disaster situation.

How can I get my pet microchipped?

Most veterinarians, some shelters, and many low-cost vaccine clinics offer this service for a nominal fee. The cost of this procedure can be anywhere from $20-$50 and some microchip companies charge a registration fee. Visit the “Vaccination Clinics” tab on this page, as most of these events also offer low-cost microchipping!

What if my pet came with a microchip from a previous owner?

If you adopt or acquire an animal that is already microchipped, it’s important to connect your contact information with the animal’s chip. Otherwise, a past owner’s information or no information at all will show up when the chip is checked, and the microchip will do you and your pet no good at all. If your pet comes to you with a microchip, take your pet to a vet or shelter for a quick scan. You may also be able to find out the brand of the chip based on the chip number. From there, contact the chip company (contact information can easily be found by googling the company name) and complete the “change of ownership” procedure.

How do I find out if my pet is already microchipped?

If you’re not sure whether or not your pet is microchipped, you can bring them to any veterinarian or animal shelter to be scanned for one. If a microchip is detected, you should receive a chip number that can then be entered into an online database (AAHA) in order to learn which company manufactures that chip — and if it’s currently registered. From there, you can reach out to the manufacturer directly to learn how to register the chip or transfer ownership.  


Santa Cruz Animal Shelter’s PLANNED Pethood Spay and Neuter Program

This program provides access to high quality, low-cost spay/neuter services for dogs, cats and rabbits. This is accessible to all Santa Cruz County resident pets, regardless of household income. Please click the link above for more details about this program.


FOWAS Low Cost Spay/Neuter Program

Friends of the Watsonville Animal Shelter offers this program to low-income residents from ANY COUNTY. Certificates are used at one of the local participating veterinarians and proof of income must be supplied.  Please click the link above for more details about this program.

SNIP Mobile Spay and Neuter

SNIP is a traveling program that visits many cities offering low-cost spay/neuter. Follow their Facebook and/or Instagram pages for the most up-to-date information in their clinic dates.

The saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is never more true than when it comes to the health of your animals. Vaccinating your pets can truly be life-saving, especially for puppies and kittens. Providing your animal with simple vaccinations is far less expensive and stressful than dealing with an often devastating disease or illness.

Both puppies and kittens need a series of vaccinations to be considered safe to go out into the world. It’s important to do your research or talk to your veterinarian when determining what your individual pet may need.

Vaccinations for Dogs/Puppies
  • Rabies
  • Bordetella
  • Corona
  • Deworming

Vaccinations for Cats/Kittens
  • Rabies
  • 4 in 1 (FVRCP)
  • FELV
  • FIV and FELV testing
  • Deworming

A few low-cost options are available for simple vaccinations, de-worming, Heartworm testing /prevention, fecal testing and flea treatment/prevention in and around Santa Cruz, including:

Shelter Location

2601 Chanticleer Ave.

Santa Cruz, CA 95065

(P) 831-465-5000 (F) 831-479-8530


Hours of Operation

Mon & Tues - CLOSED

Animal Browsing Wed to Sun 11am - 5pm

*PET FOOD PANTRY - Fridays 1:00pm - 3:00pm

The Santa Cruz SPCA is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to the welfare of animals. We receive no government funding, and depend solely on financial support from our friends. Our organization is not affiliated with any other SPCA or Humane Society.

Tax ID: 94-6171565

© 2017 Santa Cruz SPCA