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What Animals Can You Keep in Bartlesville?

Updated: Apr 30, 2019

A number of Bartlesville residents have asked about the recent city ordinance, which relates to a person’s right to keep animals (particularly livestock and chickens) within the Bartlesville city limits.


This new city ordinance (which goes into effect on May 1, 2019) provides



The ordinance further provides:


  • You may not allow or permit livestock to graze or be herded in the streets, alleys, parking lots, or parks within the city.


  • If you keep poultry in areas zoned for residential agricultural district, the poultry must be in pens or buildings at least one hundred feet from an adjoining property line.


  • If you keep poultry in single-family residential districts, you may not keep more than six adults and fourteen chicks under the age of eight weeks old. You may not keep roosters. You must keep the fowl in a building which at its nearest point is no closer than fifty feet to any adjoining residence.


  • If you keep domestic fowl, you have to keep them securely confined. If the fowl are found running “at large”, then the fowl’s running at large is evidence that you have violated the city ordinance. Running “at large” means that the fowl are off the property of the owner or persons responsible for the animal's care and maintenance and not under the control of a competent person.


Most of the city’s laws, regarding animals within the city limits, remain unchanged after the new ordinance. The laws which remain unchanged are:


  • You may not permit any animal to trespass on another person’s property within the city. You may not permit any animal to run “at large” (that is, you may not allow the animals off the property of the owner or persons responsible for the animal's care and maintenance and not under the control of a competent person)


  • Any animal injured or killed on or along public streets or rights-of-way, shall be presumed to be running at large.


  • Any enclosure, where you keep an animal, must at all times be free of an accumulation of animal waster or other filth. You must clean and sanitize the enclosure as often as is necessary to control noxious odors and prevent the infestation of flies, ticks, fleas, parasites, rodents, or other vermin. The enclosure must not be a nuisance to others on adjoining properties. The enclosure may not be a threat to the welfare of the animals enclosed. If you violate this section, the animal control office may impound the animal.


  • If you keep a dog or a cat over the age of six months, the dog or cat must be spayed or neutered, unless you obtain an intact permit from the city clerk.


  • You may not maintain more than two dogs or two cats over the age of six months outside of a primary dwelling unit. There is no limit on the number of animals that may be kept inside a primary dwelling unit, except the conditions of the dwelling unit may not constitute a nuisance or health hazard or threat to the occupants or welfare of the animals maintained.


  • All cats and dogs must be licensed. The license requires proof of spaying and neutering (or intact permit). The license also requires proof of rabies vaccinations. You may apply for a license tag at the Washington County SPCA, or the Bartlesville Police Department. A cat or dog must wear its license tag at all times.


  • If you have a “vicious dog” you must confine the animal in a building or secure enclosure, and may not take the dog out of the building unless the dog is securely muzzled. A “vicious dog” is defined as a dog which:


  1. Because of its physical nature or propensity, is capable of inflicting physical harm to human beings and would constitute a danger to human life or property; or

  2. Has behaved in such a manner that its owner knows or should reasonably know that the animal has tendencies to attack or bite human beings or other animals; or

  3. Is certified by a doctor of veterinary medicine, after observation thereof, as posing a danger to human life, animal life, or property upon the basis of a reasonable medical probability; or

  4. Commits an attack on a person or animal without provocation; or

  5. Threatens to attack, or terrorizes a person who is performing in a legal means within his rights as a person.


  • If you have a “dangerous dog” or “potentially dangerous dog” you are subject to special regulations. A “dangerous dog” means “any dog that has inflicted injury on a human being without provocation on public or private property, or any dog that has previously been found to be potentially dangerous, the owner having been given notice in writing of such by the animal control authority and the dog thereafter bites, attacks, or endangers the safety of humans or kills or inflicts injury upon a domestic animal.” A “potentially dangerous dog” is “any dog that, unprovoked, inflicts a bite or other injury on a human, or displays behavior that requires a defensive action by any person to prevent bodily injury either on public or private property; or any dog that, when unprovoked, attacks, kills or injures a domestic animal on public or private property.”


  • If you have a dangerous or potentially dangerous dog, the dog must wear a fluorescent collar or tag at all times. A warning sign must be posted on the premises where the dog is kept. You must register the dog with the police department every year. You must keep the dog securely confined in a locked structure with at least 150 square feet of space for each dog over the age of six months. The structure must be secure enough to prevent children from entering and to prevent the dog from escaping. If the dog is outside the enclosure, the dog must be on a chain link leash less than six feet long and held in the hand. The dog must be muzzled, and controlled by a person at least sixteen years old and of suitable discretion. If the dog is off your property, the dog must be on a chain link leash less than six feet long, and under the control of the owner or person at least sixteen years old and of suitable discretion. Also, when the dog is off your property, the dog must be muzzled or securely confined in a locked cage with a top and bottom. The dog may never go unconfined off of your property. The dog must also have liability insurance providing coverage of at least $50,000 for each occurrence.


  • You may not own, keep, or harbor, a “dangerous animal” within the Bartlesville city limits.


"Dangerous animal" means any animal other than domestic dogs and cats, which in the wild state is carnivorous or which because of its nature or physical makeup is capable of inflicting serious physical harm or death to human beings, including but not limited to:

Within the scientific Order Carnivora, animals of the scientific Family:


(a) Canidae, such as wolves, coyotes and jackals;

(b) Felidae, including but not limited to the genetic lineages:

Lynx, such as lynxes and bobcats.

Ocelot, such as ocelots and margays.

Panther, such as lions, tigers, leopards and jaguars.

Puma, such as cougars (mountain lions) and cheetahs,

(c) Hyaenidae, such as hyenas.

(d) Ursidae, such as bears.

Snakes, rear-fanged and constrictors, of the scientific Family:

(a) Boidae, such as boa constrictors and anacondas.

(b) Elapidae, such as cobras and death adders.

(c) Pythonidae, such as pythons.

(d) Viperidae, including both true vipers and pit vipers, such as adders, asps, rattlesnakes, copperheads and cottonmouths.


  • The animal control officer may impound any animal kept in violation of Bartlesville municipal law


Click here to see the recent ordinance passed by the city council, which takes effect May 1, 2019.


Click here to see the chapter of the Bartlesville Municipal Code concerning animals. Most of this chapter remains unchanged after the recently enacted ordinance.


NOTE: This post only covers Bartlesville municipal law regarding the keeping of animals. Keeping animals, particularly dangerous animals, can subject you to civil and criminal liability under state and federal law as well. If you have questions regarding state and federal law on the keeping of animals, consult an attorney.

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