Newcomer's Handbook Portland


Portland regularly shows up in the top two places in lists of the country’s most canine-friendly burgs, as compiled by sources such as Dog Fancy (authoritative!) and Forbes (less authoritative). While such rankings are largely meaningless, Portland is a great place for pet lovers. The city’s human-to-dog ratio is reportedly approaching four to one, and the city has undergone a multi-year boom in dog-friendly events and businesses. A Doggie Dash run ( is held each May, canine day care centers seem to be springing up on every other block, and the four Lucky Labrador Brewing Company pubs ( welcome dogs at their outdoor tables. (Cats are at least as popular as dogs in Portland, but being more self-sufficient and less gregarious, they require fewer public amenities.) Note that you’ll have to find another home for your gorilla, lion, bear, crocodile, etc.—dangerous or exotic pets became illegal in Oregon in 2010.

Pet Licenses

In Multnomah County (which includes the city of Portland), both dogs and cats must be licensed within 30 days of becoming “resident” in the county. To license your pet, you’ll need to pay a fee, which varies depending on the duration of the license, the type of animal, and whether it has been spayed or neutered; one-year licenses range from $12 to $30, with discounts available for (human) seniors. You’ll also need to provide proof that your pet has a current rabies vaccination. Licenses are available from veterinary clinics or directly from Multnomah County Animal Services (503-988-7387, Newcomers to the county can get a free 60-day “starter” license online at the MCAS website.

Pet licensing requirements across the Columbia River are similar. Licenses are required for dogs, cats, and wild animals that are kept in Vancouver, unincorporated Clark County, or the town of Yacolt. License information and applications are available online or by phone from Clark County Animal Protection and Control (360-397-2489,, or from various licensing agents. Most other incorporated areas in Clark County, including Camas, require municipal licenses for dogs; check with your city hall for specific requirements.

In Clackamas, Columbia, Marion, Yamhill, and Washington counties, in Oregon, licenses are required for dogs only. Generally, as in Multnomah and Clark counties, fees vary depending on whether the pet is sterile or fertile, and you must provide evidence of rabies vaccination.

Veterinary Care

Satisfied friends and neighbors are the best sources of veterinarian referrals. If you can’t get a personal recommendation, look in the Yellow Pages, do an Internet search, or contact the Oregon Veterinary Medical Association (503-399-0311, 800-235-3502,, which offers a “find a vet” service. (In Washington, contact the Washington State Veterinary Medical Association, 425-396-3191, 800-399-7862,

Pet Hospitals

  • Banfield, The Pet Hospital (866-894-7927, is a national chain that started in Portland and is still headquartered here; they have 20 locations in the metro area.
  • VCA Animal Hospitals (800-VCA-PETS, has ten area hospitals.

Veterinary Emergency Care

Dove Lewis ( operates a 24-hour emergency animal hospital at 1945 NW Pettygrove St (emergency line 503-228-7281).

Other area emergency veterinary clinics that are open nights and weekends include:

Pet Adoption

If you want to adopt a pet, a local animal shelter is a good place to begin. Cats and dogs will come with their first vaccinations and a discount coupon to have them spayed or neutered. Area shelters include:

You can also try such online resources as Petfinder ( and

Other Resources for Pet Owners

Several publications and websites focus on pet-related service providers, upcoming events, and news of interest to Portland-area pet owners. Check out Portland Pooch (, the Oregon Humane Society’s Services directory (, and the Oregonian’s Oregon Pets section ( or pick up a copy of Spot ( at your local library or pet supply store. You might just learn about some new, indispensable service. (Pet psychics? Who knew?)

Pet Sitters, Doggie Day Care, and Kennels

Not counting in-home doggie day care centers, the city of Portland harbors dozens of doggie day care and canine “social clubs,” most of which seem to have pun-based names. (Example: Virginia Woof Dog Daycare Center, 1520 E Burnside Street, 503-224-5455, The suburbs have several dozen more, and new facilities open seemingly every month. As with most services, it’s best to get a personal recommendation for a pet sitter, doggie day care provider, or kennel. The Oregon Humane Society publishes a useful list of “Questions to Ask When Considering a Dog Day Care,” available at

For up-to-date listings of doggie day care centers and pet sitters, check out Portland Pooch’s online list at Pet Sitters International ( and Portland Petsitters ( also offer online listings of pet sitters. Ads for in-home or private doggie day care are sometimes posted in the community/pets forum of, although as with any Craigslist ad, caveat emptor. For kennels (including cat-only boarding facilities), search (which also has daycare listings), or check the Yellow Pages under “Pet Boarding” or “Dog and Cat Kennels.” Portland Pooch’s online list of dog kennels is at If you need to board your pet because you’re leaving the city by air, the unique Airpet Hotel (6212 NE 78th Ct, Suite B, 503-255-1388, allows you to “park, board your pet, and board your plane.”

Dog Parks

Portland has more public off-leash areas per capita than any other city in the country—33 as of 2014, up from only 4 in 2000. (Sadly, the explosive growth of off-leash areas in Portland was partly the result of increasing conflict between dog-owning and non–dog-owning park users; this conflict culminated most visibly and tragically with the fatal poisonings of more than a dozen dogs in Laurelhurst Park in 2003.) Nine of these areas are fully fenced, dedicated off-leash areas, eight are unfenced areas that are open during most park hours, and the remaining 16 are open for off-leash use during specific hours only. The Portland Parks and Recreation off-leash program website ( lists off-leash areas, hours, and regulations, and provides links to maps of each specific park and the off-leash area within each park.

Outside Portland, off-leash areas have been established in Beaverton, Happy Valley, Hillsboro, Milwaukie, Tigard, Lake Oswego, Wilsonville, Vancouver, and several other suburbs, as well as in some area state parks. has created an up-to-date, comprehensive online map of dog parks in the Portland region; visit, and click on any location marker to find the name and location of the dog park, with a description of the off-leash area. A companion comparison chart, which includes user ratings for each park, is located at

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