Animal Control FAQs

New Orleans Humane Law & Rescue Frequently Asked Questions

The frequently asked questions below are intended for Orleans Parish residents only.

Where does the Louisiana SPCA provide animal control services?

We are a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and have a contract with the city of New Orleans to provide animal control services in Orleans Parish. In addition to enforcing New Orleans’ animal laws, we act as the City’s official animal shelter. We are not the animal control provider for any other parish.

What do I do if I see an animal in distress?

Call our Humane Law & Rescue team immediately at 911. If you call us after hours or on the weekend our call center will dispatch the Humane Officer on call.

What do I do if I find a stray animal?

Call the Orleans Parish non-emergency number at 504.821.2222. If you have the stray animal in your possession follow our found pet process here.

What is the stray-hold period?

A stray-hold period is a pre-determined amount of time that an animal shelter must hold an animal before assuming legal custody. This window of time is designed to give the pet parent time to find their lost pet.

In New Orleans, the stray-hold period is 3 days. This varies parish-to-parish.

What do I do if I see an animal left in a car?

If you find an animal trapped in a hot car follow these steps carefully to make sure you are acting in accordance with the law:

  • First, call out for the animal’s owner. Explore in a 30-foot radius around the car to search for the owner. 
  • If you can’t find the owner call 911.
  • Enter the vehicle with as little damage as possible and remove the animal.
  • Once the animal is safe in your care, write a note to leave for the vehicle owner letting them know that appropriate authorities have been contacted. Leave your contact information, your reason for entry into the vehicle, and the location of their animal.
  • Once you have completed these steps, remain in a safe location with the animal while you wait for emergency personnel to arrive.

Louisiana’s Good Samaritan Law, also known as Act No. 360, went into effect on August 1, 2018, and protects you from civil liability in the event of a necessary rescue of an animal or minor left alone in a car. It provides immunity from liability for property damage or trespass to a motor vehicle if the damage was caused while rescuing a minor or animal in distress. We encourage you the read the entirety of the law here.

What do I do if I need to dispose of animal remains? 

The sanitation contractor in your neighborhood (with the exception of Waste Management) can dispose of your pet’s remains. If you see a deceased animal on Orleans Parish public roads, notify the Orleans Parish Sanitation Department at 504.658.3800.

Richard’s Disposal also services a portion of Orleans Parish. For a map of their route please click here.  Richard’s instructions for animal removal are: “Dogs, cats and other small animals will only be collected from households and small businesses if the animal is put in a bag and brought to the curb for collection with solid waste. Richard’s Disposal will not go on private property for collection of dead animals. If you notify Richard’s Disposal of your need before noon they will remove the animal the same day.”

Another option is Metro Disposal. Their instructions are: “Dogs, cats and other small animals weighing less than 25 pounds will only be collected from households and small businesses if the animal is put in a plastic bag and brought to the curb for collection. In the event that animals are discovered on City streets, contact 311 to have the animal removed.” Click here to view their service area.

What do I do if I have a wildlife issue?

We do not respond to calls for wildlife. We recommend first calling Wildlife & Fisheries at 800.442.2511 for dispatch or 504.284.2023 for their local office.

Wildlife is considered to be any species that has not been domesticated; this includes raccoons, opossums, birds, snakes, foxes or coyotes.

Roto-Rooter will rescue pets and wildlife stuck in pipes or drains for free. Their technicians use state-of-the-art machinery, drain/sewer video cameras and even industrial excavation equipment. They will event tour your home or business to see if drains or pipes are easily accessible to pets or wildlife and help you find solutions to keep your animals safe.

How do I get a feral cat(s) removed from my property? 

Orleans Parish laws allow cats to roam freely, so our Orleans Humane Law & Rescue team is only allowed to pick-up sick or injured cats. Please visit our Feral Cat FAQs for more information feral cats.

If you see a sick or injured feral cat, call our Humane Law & Rescue team immediately at 911. If you call us after hours or on the weekend our call center will dispatch the Humane Officer on call.

What pets are legal and illegal to own in Orleans Parish?

Domestic dogs and cats are legal to own in Orleans Parish, in addition to ferrets, rabbits, box or aquatic turtles, laboratory rats and skunks which have been bred and raised in captivity which have never known the wild, and pocket pets or rodents including, but not limited to, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, chinchillas, sugar gliders or hedgehogs. Certain snakes, reptiles and other herps are also permissible to own in Orleans Parish. You may not own any venomous or constricting snake, or any snake that will grow to an adult size of greater than 3 feet.

Wild or exotic animals are illegal to own in Orleans Parish. Wild or exotic animals includes any live monkey (nonhuman primate), raccoon, skunk, wolf, squirrel, coyote, fox, leopard, panther, tiger, lion, lynx, serval cat, or any other warm-blooded mammal not otherwise defined; any venomous or constricting snake, any snake that will grow to an adult size of greater than 3 feet; any tarantula which can normally be found in the wild state; any member of crocodilian, including, but not limited to, alligators, crocodiles, caimans and gharials; any exotic animal hybrid; or any rooster, cockerel, cock or chanticleer.

How often should I vaccinate my pet against rabies?

Your pet must visit a licensed veterinarian each year to receive all vaccines determined necessary by the veterinarian, including the rabies vaccine. If your veterinarian administers a 3-year rabies vaccine, it is the pet parent’s responsibility to keep the license and tag updated annually and have the current tag attached to the pet’s collar at all times.

Does my dog have to be on a leash?


What happens to stray animals that are picked up by Humane Law & Rescue?

Stray animals picked up by our Humane Law & Rescue team or brought to our New Orleans campus by Good Samaritans will be held for 3 days to allow the owner time to claim them. This is called a stray hold period and it’s different in every parish. If the animal is wearing an identification collar and a tag with the owner’s name and address we are required by law to extend the hold period to 7 days.

Once the stray hold period is done, the animal legally becomes ours.

What happens if I lose my pet and you find it?

To reclaim your pet follow our reclaim instructions here.

Can I keep my dog in my yard on a chain?

No. It’s illegal to tether (tie up/chain) a dog.

What is considered adequate shelter for my dog that lives outside?

Dogs that live outside must have a shelter made of 5 solid sides (4 walls and a roof) to provide protection against heat, cold and rain. The shelter should be placed in an area free of debris, feces (waste/poop), and standing water. The shelter must be elevated so that no standing water enters.

A shelter should also be large enough for the animal to stand, turn around, and lie down on the inside without touching the sides or top of the shelter.

A kennel or crate intended for indoor use is not considered adequate outdoor shelter for an animal.

What are the requirements for keeping a horse or mule within Orleans Parish?

Horses or mules that are housed or stabled within Orleans Parish must file the following information with our Humane Law & Rescue team:

  • Name of the owner
  • Number and kind of animals housed or stabled on the premises
  • Address of place (street and number) where the animals are stabled
  • Proof of annual negative Coggins’ test result
  • Proof of annual vaccinations including Eastern and Western Encephalitis, West Nile virus, and rabies
  • Any other information as NOHLR may deem necessary for the enforcement of proper sanitary regulations on the premises

This information is required for equines residing in Orleans Parish and any equine exhibited or used for transportation in parades.

What does the law say about mule carriages?

Mules can only work for 4 hours at a time, and must take 15 minute breaks in between tours to rest and hydrate. When the National Weather Service declares a heat advisory, all owned animals must be brought inside, and working animals must cease work until the advisory ends. When the temperature is above 95 degrees or the heat index is 105 or more, carriage operation must be suspended.

These laws are enforced through a partnership between the Louisiana SPCA and Department of Safety and Permits. 

In Louisiana, our pets are a part of our culture as much as anything else. And for more than 130 years, the Louisiana SPCA has been an advocate for all our furry friends across the state. Follow our Lead and show the characters of Louisiana you care by supporting the Louisiana SPCA.

The Louisiana SPCA helped more than 3,000 animals find their forever home in 2020.

Did you know that we’re not affiliated with the ASPCA and rely on local donations?