Mandatory Spay, Neuter and Microchipping 

In March 2019, in partnership with Animal Friends of the Valleys (AFV), the City Council approved changes to the Lake Elsinore Municipal Code requiring that dogs or cats within the City must be microchipped, and spayed or neutered. Additionally, the City Council unanimously agreed to remove all cat licensing requirements.

The changes were encouraged by AFV throughout Southwest Riverside County to address increasing pet overpopulation and to save animal lives.

View Flyer Regarding New Pet Polices (English and Spanish)

Effective Date of New Policies

While adopted in March 2019, the City of Lake Elsinore is giving residents an extended grace period to allow them to meet these new requirements.

Typically, new regulations go into effect 30 days after final adoption. However, the City will give residents until August 2019 to comply with these new animal control policies.

After August 1, 2019, all dogs and cats in the City over the age of 4 months MUST to be microchipped, and spayed or neutered. Exemptions are allowed as described below.

The Numbers

Each year, the City of Lake Elsinore has the highest percentage of dogs and cats going into the shelter in the region.

Animals from Lake Elsinore accounted for more than 24 percent of all animals taken to the regional shelter in 2018, the highest of AFV’s seven service areas.

In 2018, 725 dogs and 619 cats were sheltered from Lake Elsinore alone. Of these only 51.8 percent of the dogs and only 2.2 percent of cats were returned to owners.

Of these animals, 86 percent of the cats were unaltered (i.e. not spayed or neutered) and 61 percent of dogs were unaltered.

As a result of an increasing number of dogs and cats coming into the shelter, the City’s costs for animal control services and sheltering continue to increase each year. Recognizing that these numbers have continued to increase, the City had to take steps to address animal control in the City.


Recognizing that there are a variety of reasons why citizens may not be able to microchip and spay or neuter their dogs or cats. The City has determined the following exemptions. Exempt dogs will be required to get an unaltered exempt license each year.Exemptions for Spay/Neutering

  • Dog/cat with a high likelihood of suffering serious bodily harm or death if spayed or neutered. Owners must obtain proof from a California licensed veterinarian.
  • Dogs/cats owned by recognized dog or cat breeders, as defined by the City or AFV.
  • Female dogs over the age of 10 and male dogs over the age of 12.
  • Dogs/cats used by law enforcement agencies for law enforcement purposes.
  • A qualified service animal. Must have a service animal license and tag issued by AFV.
  • Competition dog /cat that meets at least one of the following requirements:
    • Competed in at least one show or sporting competition approved by a national registry or AFV within the last 365 days;
    • Has earned a conformation, obedience, agility, carting, herding, protection, rally, sporting, working, or other title from a purebred dog/cat registry or dog sport association approved by AFV;
    • Or, the owner or custodian of the dog is a member of a purebred dog/cat breed club, approved by AFV.

All exempt dogs are required to get a unaltered exempt license. This license can be denied or revoked if the owner, custodian, or licensee is not in compliance with LEMC 6.06.020 section D.

Exemptions for Microchipping:  

  • Dog/cat with a high likelihood of suffering serious bodily harm or death if implanted with the microchip identification. Owners must obtain proof from a California licensed veterinarian.
  • A dog or cat which would be impaired of its athletic ability or performance if implanted with the microchip identification. Owners must obtain proof from a California licensed veterinarian.
  • A dog or cat that is kenneled or trained in the City of Lake Elsinore, but is owned by an individual that does not reside in the City of Lake Elsinore.
  • A dog or cat over the age of ten (10) years.

Other Types of Dog Licensing:

Recognizing that there may be some residents who do not wish to spay or neuter their dog or they do not meet the exemption requirements, the City has added a third pet licensing option for residents.

Hobby Breeder License:

A dog or cat may be may be exempt from spaying or neutering if the owner obtains a hobby breeder license for each dog and/or cat. Each license authorizes the birth of no more than one litter per animal in any 12-month period. Breeding more than one litter per year will result in penalties. If your pet is not altered or intended to be and you do not meet the exemption requirements, this is the ONLY license that allows unaltered animals.

Other Key Provisions

Other key provisions were included to lessen the burden on residents and to improve the welfare of animals within the City, including provisions for enforcement and citations, as well as provisions for a future program to address the growing feral cat population.

Enforcement and citations will begin August 1st, 2019. The new provisions will affect owners who are cited for unaltered dogs or cats, allowing them a “fix ticket” option. If owners choose to come into compliance through microchipping, properly licensing (dogs only) and spaying and/or neutering their animals, the citation fee will be waived.

An additional provision was added to mitigate the impact of the City’s feral cat population. This will allow Animal Friends of the Valleys in the future to develop a program aimed at reducing the feral cat population, which may include spay and neuter services and/or a trap, neuter, release (TNR) program. More info coming soon.

Services for Microchipping and Spaying/Neutering Your Dog or Cat

Several clinics are located in Lake Elsinore and surrounding communities that offer spaying and neutering services.

Microchipping is available at the following locations: 

Additional Resources: