Animal Regulations

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Regulations Regarding Animals
The City of Bloomington has regulations regarding animals which are intended to reduce the problems which sometimes result from keeping animals in an urban setting.

Number of Animals
Kennels are prohibited in residentially zoned neighborhoods. A kennel is defined by the Zoning Code as "any premises or portions thereof on which four (4) or more dogs, cats, or other household domestic animals over four (4) months of age are kept, or on which more than two (2) such animals are maintained, boarded, bred, or cared for in return for remuneration, or kept for the purpose of sale." In other words, with the exception of litters, a residential dwelling cannot have more than 3 dogs or cats.

Leash Laws
The City prohibits dogs and cats from running at large. Chapter 8 of the Bloomington City Code regulates dogs more extensively than cats.

• Cats: Owners or keepers of cats are simply required to keep the cat "under the physical control" of the owner or keeper while the cats are off the premises.
• Dogs: While on the premises of their owner or keeper, dogs must be "restrained", which means that they must be either:

  1. inside a secure enclosure;
  2. on a leash or other tether which prevents the dog from being closer than 10 feet to the property line of the premises owner or keeper or to a public sidewalk or public right-of-way; or
  3. on a leash of sufficient strength and connection to the dog to prevent its escape and which is under the control of a capable person, or
  4. if not on a leash the dog must be obedient to the commands of the owner or keeper and the owner or keeper must be present.
When dogs are off the premises of their owner or keeper, they must be restrained by either:
  1. being securely confined within a vehicle; or
  2. within a secure enclosure with the permission of the owner of the property where the enclosure is located; or
  3. it is physically controlled at all times by the owner or authorized person with a chain, cord, or leash of sufficient strength and connection to the animal to prevent escape.
Vicious Dogs
Dangerous and vicious dogs are subject to special regulations under state and local laws. A "dangerous" dog is "any dog which, when either unmuzzled, unleashed, unattended or otherwise unrestrained or leashed but uncontrolled by its owner or a member of the owner's family, in an aggressive or terrorizing manner, approaches any person in a menacing fashion or in an apparent attitude of attack upon streets, sidewalks, or any public property or places." Bloomington City Code, Chapter 8, Section 83(a)(3).


A "vicious" dog is:

  • Any individual dog that when unprovoked, inflicts, bites or attacks a human being or other animal either on public or private property.
  • Any dog with a known propensity, tendency or disposition to attack without provocation, to cause injury or to otherwise endanger the safety of human beings or domestic animals.
  • Any dog which has been found to be a "dangerous dog" upon three (3) separate occasions.

No dog shall be deemed "vicious" if it bites, attacks, or menaces a trespasser on the property of its owner or harms or menaces anyone who has tormented or abused it or is performing in the line of duty as a professionally trained dog for law enforcement or professional guard duties. Bloomington City Code, Chapter 8, Section 83(a)(1).

The Bloomington Police Department will notify the owner of any dog which is alleged to be a "vicious dog". If the owner disagrees with the designation of his animal as a "vicious dog", he is entitled to a hearing in front of the Chief of Police to determine whether the designation is accurate.

If the dog is determined to be a "vicious dog", special restraint requirements are imposed. The dog must be kept in a secure enclosure at all times. The only times the dog may be allowed out of the enclosure are if it is necessary for the owner or keeper to obtain veterinary care for the vicious dog or to comply with a court order.

When taken out of the enclosure, the vicious dog must be securely muzzled and restrained with a chain having a tensile strength of not less than 300 pounds and not exceeding three feet in length, and shall be kept under the direct control and supervision of the owner or keeper of the dog.  Any vicious dog which is not confined as set forth above will be impounded and shall be turned over to a veterinarian for destruction by lethal injection.

Enforcement of Animal Regulations
The City currently contracts with McLean County Animal Control for the enforcement of its animal control ordinances. Persons with a complaint about animals may call the Bloomington Police Dispatch at (309) 820-8888.