Animal Services


The Animal Shelter is hiring an additional veterinarian!

If you love animals and care about their health and safety, apply now!
Salary: Up to $160,000/yr - Depending on qualifications
*eligible for a $12,500 hiring incentive

All positions include full City benefits and retirement.
Including 37 days of sick, vacation, and holiday time in the 1st year of employment

Lost & Found Pets


Spay/neuter & microchipping your pet is the law in Waco.

Community Cats

Community Cats (outdoor/indoor) qualify for free Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR).

  • TNR includes spay/neuter, rabies vaccination & a left “ear-tip” performed by a vet during surgery. Loaner TNR traps are available with a refundable deposit. For more details, visit
  • If you come across kittens, please do not move them, the mother will return.


Animal Shelter Operations & Animal Care (Control) Officers:

  • The City of Waco Animal Shelter is a regional, open-admission shelter serving 15 cities and McLennan County.
  • Most stray animals in the Central Texas area are surrendered or turned into our shelter for care.
  • Shelter staff work 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays.
  • Animal Care Officers work 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, on call for emergencies.
  • Our operation strives for the ultimate goal of the elimination of the need to euthanize healthy or unwanted animals.

Donations Needed

The Animal Shelter needs beds! Kuranda Shelter Beds offers a program that allows residents to donate a bed directly to the Waco Animal Shelter. With over 175 kennels and more in foster care, our kennel beds show a lot of wear and tear. These chew-proof Kuranda beds provide a stable, sanitary and comfortable place for our special guests to sleep off the ground. Consider donating! Donations are tax deductible.


Distemper Resources

What is Distemper? 

  • Distemper is a viral disease caused by what is called a paramyxovirus. 
  • This is a type of virus that is closely related to the measles virus, but luckily it is not known to cause any disease in humans. 
  • This virus will attack the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervus systems of dogs, foxes, ferrets, skunks, otters, and even bears. 
  • While there is an effective vaccine against this disease, the disease remains prevalent due to it having a reservoir in the domestic and feral dog populations. 

What are the symptoms of Distemper in dogs?  

  • Initial symptoms include: 
    • A short-lived fever several days after exposure that will subside in a few days.
    • A second fever will often be accompanied by clear nasal discharge, mucopurulent ocular discharge, lethargy, and anorexia. 
  • Advanced Symptoms & Complications:
    • Dogs may contract secondary bacterial infections of the gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts.
    • In some cases, the virus will attack the nervous system, causing encephalomyelitis, which is inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, leading to neurologic symptoms including: muscle twitching, excessive salivation, chewing-gum fits, circling, head tilt, weakness, seizures, and even paralysis. 

Treatment of Distemper

  • Unfortunately, there is no treatment that specifically kills the distemper virus. 
  • As with many viral infections, the treatment is supportive care to allow the animal’s own immune system to defeat the disease. 
  • Despite there not being a cure, these animals will often require antibiotics to treat secondary infections and anti-inflammatory drugs to control inflammation in infected tissues. 
  • Adult dogs can often survive this infection, but some can have permeant health problems due to the damage caused by the virus. 
  • Puppies who become infected with distemper are at a much greater risk, and often do very poorly, with many dying despite significant medical intervention. 

Can Distemper be prevented? 

  • Distemper can absolutely be prevented though vaccination and some prudent animal husbandry. 
  • Distemper virus vaccine is included in the DAPPV combination vaccine that all dogs should receive as puppies and at 6 – 8 – 10 weeks of age in a 3 shot series. This vaccine also protects dogs against parvo virus, adenovirus types 1 & 2, and parainfluenza virus. 
  • Making sure your dog is fully vaccinated prior to being taken in public places, introduced to other dogs of unknown vaccination history, or taken to places where dogs congregate like pet stores, dog parks, or boarding facilities will help prevent them from contracting any of the previously mentioned diseases. 

Why Call Animal Care?

Calls for Animal Care (Control) Officers can include:

  • Stray animals
  • Animal bites that break the skin
  • Loose, aggressive, or vicious animals
  • Animals in vehicles unattended
  • Cruelty/neglect cases
  • Wildlife/Animals in traps
  • Common questions regarding City of Waco Animal Ordinances
  • Officers are able to issue written warnings/citations for any violations they observe.

Animal Bites & Scratches

  • Any person who is bitten or scratched by an animal shall report that fact to an Animal Care (Control) Officer within 24 hours at (254) 750-1765 (business hours). If it is after hours or an emergency, please call (254) 750-7500.
  • If the person bitten or scratched is a minor under the age of 17, the parent or guardian of such minor, if he has knowledge of the incident, shall report that fact to the animal control officer within 24 hours.
  • A person who owns, keeps, harbors or allows an animal to remain on premises under his control and who has knowledge of a bite shall report to the animal control officer within 24 hours any incident where such animal bit or scratched any person.
  • The animal committing the act shall be submitted to the animal control officer for quarantine.
  • When the local rabies control authority goes to the location where the animal that bit or scratched any person is being kept, the animal control officer may take immediate custody of the animal.
  • Where suitable arrangements are made, the local rabies control authority may permit the animal to be transferred to another location for the remainder of the quarantine period.
  • This duty to submit the animal to quarantine shall apply to any person who owns, keeps, harbors, has possession of, or allows an animal to remain on premises under his control.
  • If convicted of violating this section, a minimum fine of $100 shall be imposed by the municipal court.

Common Texas Wildlife


Raccoon on the ground

While they might look cute and cuddly, these creatures are often some of the most aggressive wildlife that are seen by Animal Control Officers. They are also a high risk category for rabies. If you seen one walking or stumbling around in the daytime, DO NOT APPROACH IT.


Opossum walking on a fence

Seen throughout most of central Texas, opossums look like big rats. Usually grey, black and white in color, they hang by their tails, and are typically not very aggressive. However, as a wild animal, they should be treated with respect and given plenty of leeway when it comes to approaching them.



The nine banded armadillo is often found in Texas. Having a leathery shell and sharp claws, they most often wreak havoc on private lawns and flower beds digging for food. They often burrow underground to sleep.

They are also known to jump when startled, which means many of them end up being killed by traffic. They do carry a host of diseases, among them being leprosy. If you see an armadillo, do not touch and maintain your distance.

Fox Squirrel

Fox Squirrel in a tree

The Fox Squirrel is most often seen in Waco. While they look innocent enough, they can spell disaster if allowed in the attic of a house. They can easily chew through wiring, causing house fires, and can keep residents up at night with their constant scurrying back and forth. They also can cause financial damage to those who sell pecans.

Animal Control does not assist with squirrels - if relocated, they will not survive.

Rat Snake

Texas rat snake in the grass

The Rat Snake is most often mistaken for the Rattlesnake, because of it’s closeness in color and also because they vibrate their tail when they’re threatened or alarmed, making it sound like they have a rattle.

Unlike its look-alike however, this snake is non venomous, although it can be extremely aggressive when encountered in the wild. If you have one of these in your home, contact Animal Control.

Diamond Back Rattlesnake

Diamondback Rattlesnake in the grass

The diamond back rattlesnake is easily identified by its rattle. As one of only a few species of venomous snakes in Texas, there have been some found in Waco.

Extremely aggressive and highly dangerous, if you see one of these creatures in your home, maintain a safe distance and contact Animal Control immediately.

Top 10 ways to help prevent wildlife problems at your home:

  1. Don’t leave cat or dog food outside overnight.
  2. Don’t leave bird seed in feeders or on the ground overnight.
  3. Don’t put unsecured garbage outside at night.
  4. If you have a pet door, securely close it at night.
  5. Trim overhanging branches that provide easy access to your roof for squirrels and other wildlife.
  6. Secure your chimney with a cap. This will help to keep out birds and raccoons.
  7. Inspect your roof, eaves and siding for damage. Cover attic vents and other roof openings with heavy-gauge, rustproof wire mesh.
  8. Cover foundation vents with heavy-gauge, rustproof wire mesh.
  9. If you have a deck, install an L-shaped barrier to prevent animals from digging underneath it.
  10. Share this information with a neighbor.

If you encounter a wild animal in your home such as a raccoon, opossum, bird or squirrel remain calm. The animal should be directed toward an open door or window without a screen. If the animal is in the attic, fireplace or under the house you should contact a wildlife removal company.

Animal Control provides service for wildlife that has been securely caught in a live trap. The City of Waco does not provide these types of traps to citizens. These traps can be purchased at your local hardware or feed stores. Raccoons and opossums may be picked up and relocated within a 10 mile radius from the location they were caught. Skunks that have been caught in traps may be picked up provided they are securely covered on all sides including the bottom. The only part of the trap that should not be securely covered is the opening where the skunk entered.

If you need assistance with an animal issue either wild or domestic please contact Animal Control at (254) 750-1765.

Trapping Requirements

When trapping an animal in the City of Waco, please keep the animal’s safety and welfare in mind. Use appropriate size traps when trapping. Traps range from small to large.

Traps should not be set on weekends or during extreme weather conditions (i.e. temperatures over 100°F, below 20°F or when hailing, snowing, etc).

Helpful list of bait

Armadillo Meal worms, other worms, or insects enclosed in a little cloth bag, maggots, sardines, fish.

Cat Fish, meats, oil of catnip, sardines. Poke holes in sardine can top, dribble juice up to trap, put can behind trigger.

Dogs Old meat, dog food.

Opossum Vegetables, sweet apples, chicken entrails, sardines, crisp bacon, canned cat food, almost anything edible will work.

Rabbit Fresh vegetables, such as brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, lettuce, or apples. In winter time, bread can be good bait. Spraying the inside of the trap with apple cider has also proved effective.

Raccoon Anything of a fishy nature: Sardines, raw fish, etc. Smoked meat, sweet corn or fruit, molasses, peanut butter or honey, peanut butter on raison bread, crisp bacon, marshmallows, strawberry licorice, persimmons, and fruit filled breakfast bars.

Skunk Almost anything edible, chicken entrails, fish, fresh or canned, insect larvae, crisp bacon, eggs.

Note: When trapping skunks Animal Control may service the trap if the trap is securely covered on all sides including the bottom. The only part of the trap that should not be covered is the opening where the skunk went in. If the trap is not covered properly you will be referred to a wildlife management service.

Livestock Impoundment

Occasionally, the Waco Animal Control Unit receives calls on loose livestock. If an owner cannot be contacted, the officer impounds the livestock through the city’s designee, Mr. Clarence Holder. Mr. Holder will come pick up the estray livestock and transport them to his holding facility in Riesel, Texas where they remain until their final disposition.

Reclaiming Livestock

In the event that the Animal Control Unit had impounded any of your livestock, the following steps must be made before the animals can be reclaimed.

  1. Contact Waco Animal Care at (254) 750-1765.
  2. Pay all fees and fines to the Waco Animal Shelter located at 2032 Circle Road.
  3. Sign an affidavit of ownership. This must be stamped by a notary public, done free of charge at the Waco Animal Shelter located at 2032 Circle Road.
  4. Show receipt and copy of affidavit to Clarence Holder, who will then release your livestock.

Signing an affidavit of ownership does allow the City of Waco Animal Care Officer in charge of your case to issue citations if they see fit.

Request for Variance to Chapter 5 - Animals of the Waco Code of Ordinances