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Pet business regulations and permits

Pet business regulations and permits

Permits for pet boarding, pet daycares and shops where pets are sold

Public Health and the King County Board of Health regulate pet businesses such as pet shops, pet boarding, pet daycares, pet grooming facilities, mobile pet grooming facilities, animal shelters, poultry retailers and pet food retailers. See King County Board of Health Title 8: Zoonotic Disease Prevention.

The King County Board of Health approves all permit fees. See King County Board of Health Title 2: Officers and Administration for more information about the fees or access a current fee schedule.

In King County, Public Health - Seattle & King County (Public Health) permits and inspects animal shelters, pet boardings, pet daycares, pet food retail businesses, pet grooming services, pet shops, satellite pet adoption facilities and poultry retailers. The permit period is from March 1 to February 28 (29) and must be renewed annually. Public Health sends renewal applications to permitted businesses every January.

Below are descriptions of each type of business requiring a permit. See the link above for the complete Board of Health regulations, definitions, and schedule of permit fees.

  • Animal shelter is any facility used to house or contain and offer or distribute for adoption as pets any stray, homeless, abandoned or unwanted animals other than livestock that is owned, operated or maintained by a public body, an established humane society, animal welfare society, society for the prevention of cruelty to animals or other nonprofit organizations, or by a person or persons devoted to the welfare, protection and humane treatment of animals. Animal shelters include satellite pet adoption facilities but do not include pet adoption services performed at an animal shelter or satellite pet adoptions facility not more than a total of 21 days per year.

  • Pet boarding is any establishment, where four or more dogs or cats are kept for commercial purposes, including but not limited to board, propagation and training. Pet boardings include, but are not limited to, dog or cat boarding facilities, training facilities where dogs or cats are boarded during the course of training, catteries and dog or cat breeding or importation businesses. Pet boardings do not include pet shops, pet daycare facilities, animal shelters, pet grooming services or veterinary hospitals or clinics where animals are kept for surgical or medical treatment under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian.

  • Pet daycares include any commercial facility where four or more dogs or other pet animal are left by their owners for periods of supervised social interaction in play groups with other animals of the same species for the majority of the time the pets are at the facility during the hours the facility is open to the public.

  • Pet food retail business is any retail establishment selling any of the following for consumption by pets: Foods or treats requiring refrigeration or freezing to prevent spoilage; or uncooked or partially cooked animal derived pet foods or treats not requiring refrigeration or freezing. Partially cooked animal derived pet foods or treats are those that are cured, dried, dehydrated or smoked and include but are not limited to pig ears, beef hooves, dried tendons, smoked bones, chicken or salmon jerky, and freeze dried seafood, meat or animal organs.

  • Pet grooming service is any establishment or mobile unit, public or private, where pet animals are bathed, clipped or combed for the purpose of enhancing their aesthetic value or health, or both, and for which a fee is charged. Pet grooming service includes any self service dog washing business where the customer washes their own pets. Pet grooming service does not include incidental bathing or combing of pets as part of regular animal care performed at a pet shop, pet boarding, pet daycare, animal shelters or grooming performed on an infrequent nonprofit basis for hobby or recreational purposes.

  • Pet shop is any establishment, store or department of any store that acquires, through purchase, consignment, donation, importation or breeding, live animals including birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish or poultry, but excluding livestock, and sells or offers to sell, adopt or trade the live animals to the public or retail outlets.

  • Poultry retail business means any establishment, store, department of any store or other establishment that acquires live poultry through purchase, consignment, donation, importation, hatching or breeding, and sells or offers to sell, adopt or trade the live poultry to the public. "Poultry retail business" does not include any facilities that hold animals for not more than twenty-four hours before the animals are sold, auctioned, adopted, traded or donated and removed from the premises.

  • Satellite adoption facility is a fixed location within a separately permitted pet shop, pet boarding, pet daycare facility, pet grooming service or pet food retail business where an animal shelter or its staff or volunteers house, care for and regularly offer pets for adoption from the fixed location. If you operate a hobby kennel or cattery outside the city of Seattle you may need a license from your local jurisdiction and/or Regional Animal Services for King County (RASKC). For more information about these types of licenses in King County, please call 206-296-7387 or visit their website.

If a business transfers ownership, the permit does not transfer to the new owner. If you are a new owner of a currently-permitted facility you must contact Public Health to make arrangements to transfer the permit to you.

NOTICE (Posted 12/29/21): We are currently updating our application forms. For assistance, please contact us directly at

Step 1: How to get a permit
Submit a request for a permit and plan review application to us directly at Someone from our office will respond to you with instructions about how to apply for a permit.

  • Get your application in early! Submit your application as soon as possible to avoid delays in approving your permit
    • Due to limited capacity, we are not able to expedite applications.
    • We cannot guarantee to have an application completed and approved by a specific date.
  • It is strongly recommended that you submit your plan application as you are working through any building improvements, plumbing changes, electrical, and design elements to ensure that your facility will meet the requirements of King County Board of Health Title 8 Pet Related Businesses.
  • It is strongly recommended that you review King County Board of Health Code, Title 8: Zoonotic Disease Prevention Regulations.

Step 2: Check your Zoning
Before you submit your application for plan review for your new facility check with your local county/city planning and development department to ensure that the property is zoned for the proposed use.


Public Health inspectors will conduct inspections of new facilities before they open for business. Existing permitted facilities will be inspected annually by a Public Health inspector. Inspections may be unannounced but are always conducted during business hours.


To file a complaint regarding a pet shop, pet daycare, pet boarding, pet grooming service, animal shelter, satellite pet adoption facility or pet food retail establishment call 206-263-9566.

News for pet businesses from Public Health:

  • January 2024
    • Permit renewals
    • Canine respiratory disease update
    • What you need to know about navigating pet business regulations in King County
    • New permit management software coming in late 2024/2025
    • Emergency preparedness
  • October 2023
    • Outdoor areas
    • Artificial turf
    • Wastewater considerations
    • Choosing safer disinfectants
  • May 2022
    • Salmonella outbreaks linked to non-traditional pets
    • Washing dishes and toys
    • Ventilation for pet facilities
  • February 2019
    • Pet food recall information
    • Infection control plan requirements
    • Hosting adoption events
    • Rabbit biosecurity
  • January 2018
    • Reminders about permits
    • Bat encounters and rabies vaccination
    • Backyard poultry and Salmonella
    • Updates on canine influenza virus
  • June 2017
    • Multi-state outbreak of Seoul virus
    • Animal bites and scratches in your facility: What to do
    • Keep the dirt outside!
    • Salmonella and chicks...again?
    • People get sick from pet food?
    • Three local cases of hantavirus
  • January 2017
    • Summary of 2016 activity
    • Salmonella outbreak update
    • Emergency preparedness
    • Compliance news


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