Municipal Licensing & Standards

Animal Services

Toronto Animal Services (TAS) encourages safe and enjoyable communities for both people and pets. TAS promotes responsible pet ownership, encourages voluntary compliance with animal-related laws, promotes pet adoption and pet licensing and microchipping.  

Animal shelter hours and locations.

West Shelter temporary closure

The West Shelter, located at 146 The East Mall has been undergoing reservations and will reopen on May 25th. 

During the closure, animals will be relocated to the other animal shelters.

What's new

ExpandToronto Animal Services undergoes some changes

Toronto Animal Services has been reviewing shelter trends and evaluating existing services and programs to ensure the service teams have adequate resources to meet the current and rapidly changing demands.

As a result of some new programs and partnerships, there has been a decrease in shelter animal intakes over the last number of years. At the same time, there has been an increase in mobile response calls, dog bite investigations, and a large increase in sick, injured and dead wildlife calls. There is also increasing demands to further support the partnerships and programs that are helping to reduce the pet homelessness problem in Toronto.

Effective May 25, Toronto Animal Services will be implementing a plan to re-purpose the south region animal shelter at Exhibition Place in order to ensure adequate staffing in other areas of the service. More staff resources will be directed to the Mobile Response Unit to meet field response times for pick up of injured/distressed animals and also to programs and partnerships to support more public education and community outreach and the SNYP and CHIP Truck programs.

Services that will be offered at the south shelter include:
• Pet Respite Centre: short-term care for pets to facilitate hospital stays, etc. (through social service agency referrals)
• Temporary housing for animals from hoarding cases
• Owner surrenders (by appointment only)
• Cat adoptions (Feline Fridays)
• Temporary housing for dangerous dogs
• Education Centre
• Injured/distressed wildlife triage

More information about hours that will be open to the public will be posted on the website as the plan is further developed.

Volunteers will still be needed to participate in shelter animal socialization for animals from hoarding cases involving cats, dogs and other small mammals. We are working on a set of FAQ's to assist with answering questions from volunteers. This will be posted here on the website in the first week of May 2016. 

ExpandCanine Distemper in Raccoons

Back to the Animal Services home page

Canine Distemper (CDV) is a virus that is generally present in the raccoon population, but at low levels. Dogs can also contract this virus.

Raccoons with distemper may approach people, or curl up to sleep in open areas in close proximity to people. They generally act disoriented or lethargic, but can become aggressive if cornered. They may have seizures.

Canine Distemper does not pose a threat to human health. Dogs that have not been vaccinated for distemper can become infected if they come in contact with a raccoon with distemper.

If residents notice a raccoon displaying abnormal behaviour, they should call 416-338-PAWS.

Residents are not to approach or feed the raccoons.

What is normal raccoon behaviour?

Raccoons in an urban setting can become quite tame and seem to have little or no fear of humans. They are nocturnal and sleep during the day however during breeding season you may see an active raccoon during daylight hours. Raccoons may also be seen during the day if they have been flushed from hiding. They are not true hibernators which means they may be seen during the mild winter weather. Raccoons are only aggressive if cornered -  they would sooner run away if confronted.

Male raccoons are solitary and these are usually the ones you will find sleeping on deck, roof tops, etc. Females usually have a den site and prefer protected elevated areas for the protection of their young.

What is abnormal raccoon behaviour?

They appear blind and confused and may wander aimlessly and may become aggressive if cornered. A mucus discharge will often be present around the eyes and nose and may be accompanied by coughing, tremors, seizures or chewing fits.

What is Canine Distemper?

Canine Distemper is a viral disease affecting animals in the canine families, in addition to some other mammals. It affects the respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous systems. Raccoons, dogs and skunks can be infected. The disease is most often fatal and animals that recover may display permanent neurological damage.


Question Answer
Can humans catch Canine Distemper? No. Humans cannot get Canine Distemper.
Can my dog catch Canine Distemper? Yes. If your dog has not been vaccinated against distemper, and comes into contact with a raccoon with distemper. Most dogs are vaccinated as puppies, and then have regular boosters. Puppies that have not been vaccinated are at particularly high risk.
How can I keep my dog safe? Keep your dog on a leash and check your backyard before letting your dog out.
What are the symptoms of a raccoon with distemper? Raccoons with distemper may move slowly or stumble as they walk. They lose their fear of humans, appear blind and confused and may wander aimlessly and may become aggressive if cornered. A mucus discharge will often be present around the eyes and nose and may be accompanied by coughing, diarrhea, vomiting, tremors, seizures or chewing fits. They may only exhibit some of these symptoms and otherwise appear quite healthy.
What should I do if I see a raccoon that I think has distemper? Do not approach them. Do not feed them. 
Call 416-338-PAWS and give them the location and time of the sighting. 
Can anything be done to help the raccoons? Once a raccoon is infected, there is little to no chance of survival for the animal. It can take several weeks for the disease to run its course in the raccoon. Young raccoons are most susceptible to this virus. 
Should I feed the raccoons? No. Do not feed raccoons or leave food out for them. Any food that is left out may only attract other wildlife, or attract sick raccoons to areas that pets frequent.

To discourage raccoons or any wildlife from coming onto your property: 

  • Do not leave any food out. At this time, it would also be advised to take down any bird feeders, or regularly clean up the area around the bird feeder so you do not attract raccoons
  • Ensure all garbage, recycling and green bins are secure and left out on the morning of your regular pick up
  • Keep your pet on a leash when on a walk and scan your yard before letting them outside
  • Explain to your children why they should not approach raccoons or any wildlife even if they seem docile
  • Check with your vet to ensure your dog has been vaccinated against distemper if you are not sure

ExpandJack and Pepper's Story

Our Animal Services' adoption team is trained in finding the best home for the animals. Each animal is given an animal care plan and we match up the home with one that can meet the needs for the animal.

Jack (the cat) came into the shelter because she (yes, Jack is a she) was soiling outside of the litter box in her home. Animal Services found a placement for her in a barn where she wouldn't have to rely on a litter box.

The barn she went to has pet goats and the little goat Pepper (featured in the picture) had just lost her only goat companion. Now, Pepper and Jack have found each other and are inseparable! There are a couple of other cats at the barn but Jack prefers the companionship of Pepper, the goat.

This is clearly a match that was meant to be!

ExpandMagic? Miracle? Microchip!

On September 28th, 2015 Sapphire the cat found herself face-to-face with a small window of opportunity; specifically, the second story window that her owner Jackie had left open for fresh air. Sapphire did something she'd never done before. She took a leap of faith, jumped out the window, and disappeared into the night.

Jackie searched for Sapphire, but no luck.  As the days passed, her spirits were beginning to fade.

Three days later, a young man was stuck in traffic on the 401. As he crawled down the express lanes, he thought he saw movement on the shoulder of the highway. He got out of his car to investigate and found a cat! The cat was petrified and seeking refuge in a sewer drain. He wrapped his jacket around the cat, and lifted it out of the drain into a box in his car.

When he arrived at Toronto Animal Services (TAS), staff found a black female cat, covered in oil and grease, who was lucky to be alive! She had suffered some leg injuries, which had become infected, and was terrified and starving.

As is customary with all stray animals arriving at TAS, the cat was scanned and a micochip was found. This microchip provided the staff with the both the cat’s name, and the contact information of her owner.

When Jackie answered her phone, she received welcome, but very shocking news. What she did not expect to hear, was exactly WHERE Sapphire was found. For one, finding her on the 401 express lanes was shocking enough, but in Toronto?! Sapphire had escaped only three days previously, 275 kms away, in Kingston!

Sapphire’s survival of a journey from Kingston to Toronto was nothing short of a miracle. And while we will never know exactly how she managed to hitchhike so far across the 401, one thing is for certain. It was not magic that reunited Sapphire and Jackie- it was her microchip.


Jackie is happy to report that Sapphire seems happy to be home and has settled back in nicely. She has been bathed several times to remove the oil and grease from her coat and her leg wounds are almost fully healed after a full course of antibiotic injections and wound cleaning. She had lost a significant amount of weight during her three-day ordeal, but is nearly back to old self.

ExpandProper outdoor shelter for your dog

We recommend that dogs be sheltered inside your home if at all possible.

We don’t recommend keeping any pet outside for long periods of time, but if you are unable to keep your dog inside during cold weather, dogs need adequate shelter from the elements.  Dogs kept outside may be unintentionally exposed to bitter cold temperatures in the winter and scorching heat in the summer.

To protect your dog from harsh weather, provide a well-constructed dog house.  However, keep in mind that some breeds with long or short coats cannot tolerate extreme temperatures even when provided with a proper outdoor shelter.  Proper outdoor shelter for dogs must meet the following standards: 

1. Weatherproof Construction

The shelter must be well constructed, have a roof, enclosed sides, a doorway and a solid level floor raised at least 2 inches from the ground.  There should be no cracks or openings other than the entrance.  The shelter must be insulated.  Rainproof openings for ventilation are required in hot weather.

Protected/weather proof entrance – the entryway must be protected by a self-closing door, an offset outer door, or covered by a flexible flap.

Bedding – a sufficient amount of dry bedding such as cedar shavings or straw must be provided to protect against cold and dampness.  The bedding should be changed weekly to prevent mold and to keep the doghouse sanitary.

2. Size

The shelter should be small enough to allow a dog to warm the interior of the structure and maintain body heat, but must be large enough for the dog to stand up, turn around comfortably and lie down.

3.  Placement

The shelter should be placed where it will be adequately shaded in the hot weather and have the best protection from the wind in cold weather.  In addition ensure your dog has:

  • open/adequate access to fresh, non-frozen water (by changing the water frequently or using a pet-safe, heated water bowl);
  • food of sufficient quality and quantity;
  • continuous access to an area (e.g. kennel, run, backyard) with adequate space for exercise, daily lighting cycles of either natural or artificial light; and
  • appropriate veterinary care. 

Recognizing problems

If your pet is whining, shivering, seems anxious, slows down or stops moving, seems weak, or starts looking for warm places to burrow, get them inside quickly because they may be showing signs of hypothermia.  Frostbite is harder to detect and may not be fully recognized until a few days after the damage is done. If you suspect your pet has hypothermia or frostbite, consult your veterinarian immediately.


ExpandPetSmart Charities Donation

Toronto Animal Services has been given a grant of $39,100 from Petsmart Charities for a spay/neuter project. This project is targeted to a geographical area of the city where we take in a high number of stray cats each year. Our goal is to trap, neuter and release as many stray and free-roaming cats from this targeted area over the next 18 months. At the end of the 18-month period, we believe that there will be a considerable reduction in stray cats coming us from this area.

The trap/neuter/release program is one of the strategies that Toronto Animal Services is using to reduce the number of homeless pets in Toronto.

Each year, Petsmart Charities gives away millions of dollars in grants throughout North America to qualifying animal welfare organizations who meet a very specific set of criteria.

Popular services

Chip Truck

Chip Truck

The Chip Truck offers City of Toronto pet licences and microchips and a rabies vaccine for only $25 for cats and $35 for dogs. 

Other Animal Services Resources


The Chip Truck

The Chip Truck offers City of Toronto pet licences and microchips and a rabies vaccine for only $25 for cats and $35 for dogs. View 2016 dates.



Trap, Neuter and Return (TNR) Program

We sterilize and ear tip feral cats from managed colonies. Cats are returned to their original colony locations by their caretakers after they have recovered from surgery. Learn more here.


Animal Enforcement

Toronto Animal Services promotes the health and safety of people, pets and animals living together in Toronto communities through bylaw enforcement and mobile response.


Animal Shelters

Toronto Animal Services' four shelters are clean, busy and often happy places where people can find a new companion or be reunited with a lost pet. 

Animal Services Updates and Events

ExpandCity of Toronto partners with outside businesses and organizations to sell pet licences

Toronto residents can now purchase or renew their dog or cat licence at the Toronto Humane Society and participating veterinarians across the city.  Licences will still be sold at the four Toronto Animal Services' shelters and on the City's website through the e-Pet portal.

In accordance with Toronto Municipal Code, Chapter 349, all dog and cat owners in the City of Toronto must purchase a licence for their pet. Recent estimates show that only 30% of dogs and 10% of cats in the City of Toronto are licensed.

Through pet licensing, Animal Services makes every effort to reunite owners with their pet if it becomes accidentally lost or in the case of an emergency, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days per year.

Each year, Toronto Animal Services reunites more than 2,200 pets with their owners. When pets are licensed, the animal care and control officers on the street do not ever have to bring the animal to the shelter.  The pet and owner can be reunited almost immediately.

Licensing fees go directly back to Toronto Animal Services to help support programs such as pet adoption, spaying/neutering and providing medical care for lost and homeless animals. Toronto Animal Services provides care for thousands of unwanted, injured, abandoned or lost animals each year.

See where you can purchase a pet licence in your neighbourhood.

ExpandToronto Animal Services wins national award

Toronto Animal Services has won a nationally recognized award for our efforts at re-homing animals, accepted by James Mclean, Animal Care and Control Officer. The winners of the awards were announced at the National Summit for Urban Animal Strategies in October 2013. James is an extremely driven individual who has dedicated his life to helping homeless dogs, not only at work, but during his free time. James has created a large network of dog rescue groups that Toronto Animal Services works with on a daily basis to match dogs with Toronto residents. 

ExpandThank you to our volunteer photographers!

Shout out to all of our volunteers who spend their free time taking great photos of our adoption animals! Good photographs are key to getting potential adopters interested in our available animals! Like they say, a picture tells a thousand words. Much appreciation to:

Sharon DiGenova
Amanda Factor
Laura Heslin
Fred Ni
Karen Weiler of Posh Pets Photography

Thanks to all of you for making the animals look as great in their photo as they are in real life!

ExpandWe have a winner for National Dress up Your Pet Day!

"Country Diva" was submitted by Sarah from Oakville! It was very difficult to make a decision, but Country Diva's nail polish clinched it for us! Sarah will be donating her prize back to the dogs at Toronto Animal Services.

We had a great response for this contest and thank all who participated and entered their pets. 

National Dress Up Your Pet Day was founded in 2009 by Celebrity Pet Lifestyle Expert and Animal Behaviorist, Colleen Paige, as a fun way to promote the need for adoption, celebrate our beloved pets and to help support the pet retail business like neighbourhood pet supply stores, local artisans, knitters and pet photographers who can use days like this to showcase their crafts.

To see some of our other great entries, visit our Toronto Animal Services' page on Facebook at