Veterinary - Animal Welfare Section

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The 1977 North Carolina General Assembly enacted an "Animal Welfare Act" to ensure that animals, as items of commerce, are provided humane care and treatment by regulating the transportation, sale, purchase, housing, care, handling and treatment of animals by persons or organizations engaged in transporting, buying or selling them. This Act is intended to protect animals confined in pet shops, kennels, public and private animal shelters, and auction markets. For the purposes of this Act, "animal," as defined by General Statute 19A-23, includes only domestic dogs and cats. State issued certificates or licenses are required for animal shelters, pet shops, boarding kennels and dealers. Civil penalties are possible for the operation of a pet shop, kennel, animal shelter, etc., without a license.

Pet Shops who sell "pocket pets" (hedgehogs, degus, spiny mice, prairie dogs, flying squirrels, jerboas, or short-tailed opossums) do not need to be licensed by AWS but may need to be licensed with USDA, APHIS. Not included on the list of "pocket pets" are rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, rats, mice, gophers, chinchilla, domestic ferrets.

Call the local sheriff's office or local animal control for cases of animal cruelty, stolen animals, animals running at large, in-home pet sitting services, private breeding kennels, or humane care of animals other than dogs and cats being sold commercially. Animal cruelty cases are handled at the local level and may be reported to the N.C. Department of Justice's Animal Welfare Hotline by calling 1-855-290-6915 or by contacting your local sheriff's office, local police department, local animal control and/or your local animal cruelty investigator.


All Animal Welfare licenses and registrations issued by NCDA&CS expire June 30. Your license or registration may be renewed by completing the necessary forms and submitting these and any appropriate fee to this office no later than June 16. AWA requires a current license or registration. Checks may be made payable to NCDA&CS. We cannot accept online payments at this time.  Please mail the application and check together to the address at the top of the application. Please do not fax/email the application if it requires a fee.

The requirement for a boarding kennel license from the Animal Welfare Section also applies to in-home boarding services for dogs and/or cats. This includes providing boarding services advertised through online pet-service companies and other online lists. Operating a boarding facility without a valid license could result in up to a $5,000 civil penalty for each violation.  In addition, operation of a boarding kennel without a valid license is a Class 3 misdemeanor where each day of operation constitutes a separate offense.

Animal Welfare Administrative Code  

Animal Welfare Act

Please do not complete an application until you speak with an Inspector. Please do not come to the building to drop off your application and check. It must be mailed.

Animal Welfare Section

Mailing Address: 1030 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1030
Physical Address: 2 West Edenton Street, Raleigh, NC 27601
Phone: (919) 707-3280