Frequently Asked Questions

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Where is Animal Services located?

We are located one mile north of the Riverside Boulevard and North Main Street intersection at 4517 North Main Street. We share a driveway with River Bluff Nursing Home.

What should I do if I'm bitten by a dog?

After receiving proper medical treatment, contact Winnebago County Animal Services and an officer will complete a bite report of the incident.

What should I do if someone is being attacked by a vicious animal?

For immediate assistance with any life threatening situation involving an animal to a human, call 911.

Yikes...I lost my pet!

Visit Animal Services at 4517 N. Main Street and look for your pet right away. If your pet is not at the shelter, please complete a lost pet report and check our Found Books before leaving. Visit the shelter often to see if your pet has been found. Be sure to ask for a Lost Pet information sheet for more information. We recommend coming to the facility every day to view the stray ward for your lost pet. Stray cats with no identification are place for adoption right away. Dogs are kept for 7 days with no ID and 10 days if they have an ID. For more information, go to our Lost and Found link our website.

Do you adopt animals at your facility?

You bet we do! Animal Services always has cats and dogs available for adoption. Sometimes other types of pets are available such as birds, rabbits, iguanas, ferrets, etc. View animals for adoption.

How long do you keep cats and dogs?

The animals that come into Animal Services do not have an expiration date.

Stray dogs are held for seven days and may be put up for adoption if not reclaimed by the owner, provided they are healthy and friendly. Dogs stay in the adoption room until adopted, unless their health or behavior changes to the point of becoming a public safety risk to themselves or people.

There is no requirement to hold stray cats, so healthy and friendly cats with no identification are placed in adoption right away. Cats are available for adoption at Animal Services or Petsmart until adopted, unless their health or behavior changes to the point of becoming a public safety issue for the cat or people.

If a sick or injured stray animal comes into Animal Services, it may be euthanized right away if the veterinarian determines it's the most humane thing to do. Animals Services does provide limited vet care for injured animals that come in as strays. We do not provide treatment or vaccinations for pets owned by the public.

Winnebago County Animal Services avoids euthanizing animals by working with animal rescue groups and foster homes whenever possible.

How can I help?

  • Adopt your next cat or dog from Animal Services.

  • Spay or neuter your pet at an early age.

  • Do not let your pet roam the neighborhood.

  • Have your pet vaccinated and examined annually by a licensed veterinarian.

  • Properly train and socialize your cat or dog.

  • Always make sure your pet has identification such as a microchip, rabies tag, or personalized tag. Keep your contact information current with Winnebago County Animal Services and with the microchip manufacturer.

What do I do about a dog that barks all the time?

Constant barking violates the nuisance ordinance in most of our communities; please call Animal Services.

Is there a local barking ordinance within my city?

Check your municipalities' ordinances for further instruction.


I'm moving and can't take my pet with me. What should I do?

Try your best to find an appropriate new home for your pet by placing ads in the newspaper, at local pet stores or by contacting friends or family. You can always release your pet to Animal Services during regular business hours, but you must call 815-319-4100 and press 1 to make an appointment. Animal Services charges a fee for every animal released by its owner. You must be a resident of Winnebago County to release your pet to Animal Services - photo ID required.

Do I need a pet license if I have a three year rabies shot?

Yes. If your pet is over the age of four months, you are required to purchase a county pet license (rabies tag) every year or you can purchase a three-year pet license at the time of vaccination. The pet license can be purchased when you take your pet to the veterinarian for its annual physical exam, or you can purchase a pet license at Animal Services with proof of current vaccinations.

My vet won't vaccinate my pet because it had a reaction to the rabies shot last time. Do I still need a rabies tag?

Yes. If your pet is over the age of four months, you are required to purchase a county pet license. Simply have your veterinarian sign the rabies form indicating the reason for no rabies vaccination, and they can still issue the county pet license. Your vet must provide a new exemption every year, and you still must purchase a county pet license.

My vet won't vaccinate my pet for rabies because it's too old. Do I still need a rabies tag?

Yes, you are required to purchase a county pet license. Simply have your veterinarian sign the rabies form indicating age as the reason for no rabies vaccination, and they can still issue the county pet license. This exemption must be renewed every year.

I can't afford to spay or neuter my pet. Can you help?

Animal Services has spay/neuter vouchers available for low income Winnebago County residents. Bring a photo ID showing you are a resident of Winnebago County, along with proof of household income, current rabies vaccination and county pet license. You can purchase a voucher for $20.

Does WCAS do on-site rabies vaccinations?

WCAS only vaccinates animals impounded at our facility. We do not provide vaccinations for pets belonging to the general public. Please contact your local veterinarian.

Who will notify me when my animal is due for rabies vaccination and or registration?

It is the pet owner's responsibility to remember when to vaccinate and register. Winnebago County Animal Services sends out reminder cards as a courtesy one month prior to rabies vaccination expiration or the need for re-registration. Your veterinarian may also send you a reminder; however, it is ultimately the responsibility of the pet owner.

What happens if I am late registering my pet?

If you are late registering your pet there is a double registration fee.

What if I find a kitten or litter of kittens?

Although you might not see a mom, she's probably not far away and may even be watching you. If the kittens are quiet and snuggled together, they are probably fine and mom is returning and taking care of them. You might check on them from a distance in about three hours, just to make sure they are still quiet and healthy. Kittens should stay with their mother until they are 8 weeks old. If mom is friendly, you might consider bringing the mom and babies into your home to keep them safe until the kittens are 8 weeks old, and then find homes for the kittens and have the mom spayed before returning her to where you found her.

I found some baby raccoons or baby rabbits (or other wildlife). What should I do?

If you find any type of baby wildlife, please leave them alone. Their mother is probably nearby and is watching you. For instance, mother rabbits do not sit on their nest all of the time and come back at night. Part of the reason they don't sit on their nest is to keep other animals away from the nest. If a bird's nest or baby bird falls from the tree, gently place it back on a branch or in the nest. For more information on wild bunnies, visit the House Rabbit Society. Also vist the Illinois Dept of Natural Resources.

Living with Coyotes in Illinois

Please visit the Illinois Extension Office website for more information at


If you have other questions that have not been answered on this web page, feel free to call Animal Services during regular business hours at 815-319-4100.

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Use a rabies tag, microchip, or an ID tag with your name and current phone number.

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Winnebago County Animal Services
4517 North Main Street
Rockford, IL 61103
P: 815-319-4100
F: 815-319-4101

Shelter Hours:
Monday: 11:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Tuesday-Friday: 11:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Saturday: 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Sunday: CLOSED
*Please note, all adoptions end 30 minutes prior to closing.

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