Animal Welfare Ordinance Updates Effective September 1st, 2019

Date of Press Release: 
Thu, 08/29/2019
Press Release By: 
Capt. Barbour

Norman Police Department Press Release


Animal Welfare Ordinance Updates Effective September 1st, 2019

In the fall of 2018 and spring of 2019 a series of public meetings and discussions were held regarding proposed updates
to the some of the City of Norman ordinances regarding animals and the operations of the Animal Welfare Division. The updates were enacted by vote of the City Council in May of 2019 and are scheduled to take effect on September 1. The goal of each update is to improve the safety of our community and its animals while achieving improved efficiency of city services.

Many of the updates are clerical or procedural in nature and have no direct impact on city services or requirements of animal owners.  Summaries of the potentially impactful updates are provided below. A complete listing of City of Norman animal related ordinances may be found at The updated ordinances will not be available online until after the effective date.

Anyone with questions regarding the updates is encouraged to contact the Animal Welfare Division for clarification or assistance. Additional information and continued education regarding these topics and others will be provided by the Animal Welfare Division through their ongoing community programs and their Facebook page (Norman Animal Welfare).  

Tethering of Dogs and Cats (Chapter 3, Section 402)

A new ordinance will prohibit the unsupervised tethering of dogs and cats. Persons needing exemptions due to specific unique situations may be granted by Animal Welfare Officers. If an exemption is provided, the animal may never be tethered “for any duration under conditions which may reasonably threaten the health or well-being of the animal”. Additionally, “the tether shall be of adequate length to allow reasonable exercise, access to water, shelter, and shall not be subject to entanglement with other objects in any manner that may cause the animal any injury or clear discomfort or be of a weight disproportionate to the size of the animal so tethered as to unduly burden the animal. Tethering dogs or cats using choke-chains or prong collars is prohibited. Tethering of an unsupervised dog or cat is prohibited when the outside air temperature is not between 35 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.”

Sale and Disposition of Animals not Retrieved by Owners (Chapter 3, Section 205 (1) and 205 (3))

Updates to this section include setting the holding time for stray animals located without a known owner to three days. Animals with a city pet license, rabies tag, or a registered microchip will be held an additional two days, for a total of five days. Additionally, the update now clarifies “the three (3) day time period shall begin at 8:00 A.M the day following the animal’s intake into the facility. Calculation of the three total days shall not include Sundays, holidays, or other days the shelter is not open to the public”. Other newly enacted sections of the ordinance state, “Impounded kittens and puppies which enter the shelter in groups of three (3) or more, and are under four months of age without a known owner or mother may, at the discretion of the shelter staff, be exempted from any required hold times prior to their release.”

Number of Large Reptiles Allowed (Chapter 3, Section 504)

This ordinance requires all residents who “harbor, possess or keep large reptiles, such as snakes, lizards, or tortoises that are capable of exceeding forty (40) pounds at an adult age on any lot, premises or in any structure” to complete a simple registration of the animal with the Animal Welfare Division. The confidential list, which is similar to the existing voluntary registry of livestock, is intended to ensure public safety and necessary care of the animals should there be an incident at the registered location. The ordinance additionally provides that the information “shall not be available for public review or release without court order”. Animals which may be included in this sections requirements include, but is not limited to “the Burmese Python, African Rock Python, Reticulated Python, Green Anaconda, Yellow Anaconda, Komodo Dragon African Spurred-Thigh Tortoise”. Animals gathering naturally in an outdoor setting are specifically exempted from this section.

Definition of Adequate Shelter (Chapter 3, Section 102)

The definition of adequate shelter for animals will be revised to the following. “Structure or area of structural soundness with three sides, with a waterproof roof, solid floor, adequate bedding material, positioned to allow for protection from north and west winds, proper ventilation, structural soundness, and which is suitable for the species, age, condition, size and type of animal which is safe and protects each animal from injury, precipitation, direct sunlight, adverse effects of extreme heat or cold, enables the animal to be clean and dry, and has sufficient room for the animal to move about freely and to lie comfortably while allowing the retention of the animal’s body heat. Wildlife, livestock, and other non-domesticated animals normally residing outdoors shall be only required to have appropriate shelter from extreme weather through natural or artificial means available to it to protect the animal.”

Definition of Owner and Reporting Requirements of Found Animals (Chapter 3, Section 115)

The definition of the owner of an animal will be revised to the following: “An owner is any person possessing legal title to any animal or possessing no legal title, is identified by City Pet License or microchip registration, or a person who keeps or harbors the animal in excess of fourteen (14) days without delivering the animal to its proper owner or the Animal Welfare Center, provides food or water regularly for the animal, or provides routine or ongoing non-emergency medical care for the animal.”

Reporting Requirements of Found Animals (Chapter 3, Section 305)

A new ordinance included in the updates requires “Any person who takes possession of, keeps or harbors an animal that reasonably appears to be at large or stray” to “make notification to the animal shelter within 72 hours. Such notification shall include a complete and accurate description of the animal, when and where it was located, where it is being housed, and contact information for the reporting person. The  erson reporting the animal shall additionally ensure the animal is scanned for a microchip or inspected for identifying markings by an animal shelter, medical provider, or rescue.”

Sale and Disposition of Animals not Retrieved by Owners   (Chapter 3, Section 205(8))

Additional options for release of animals through a Trap Neuter Return (TNR) program or Return to Field Program have been outlined. Nothing in this section impacts the hold times for animals. Any re-release of animals will require notifications to nearby property owners about the program.