Animal Ordinance Frequently Asked Questions

The City of Dayton updated its Animal Control Ordinance on September 16, 2019, which includes language referring to the keeping of livestock. We recommend that concerned residents take a look at the actual ordinance. If you have any questions after reading the ordinance, reach out to us at contact@daytontx.org and we’ll answer them for you.

Is the City going to ban livestock within the city limits?
The City of Dayton has not banned livestock, nor is a livestock ban being considered. That rumor is simply false. 

This ordinance does not regulate chickens as long as they are kept on the owner's property.

This ordinance does not ban livestock. It simply sets requirements on how and where livestock can be maintained.   

For example:

  • No animal, except livestock, shall be kept on a vacant lot or area that is not adjacent to the owner's property.
  • Livestock allowed on a particular piece of property shall be limited to the number of animals that can be safely kept on the property in a healthy and sanitary manner. The intent of this section is to ensure that animals are kept in a healthy manner. 
  • You can have up to two hogs or pigs within the city in lots or pens. Lots and pens need to be at least three hundred fifty feet from any house or business. You can't keep livestock closer than two hundred feet to any residence, meeting place, public property, or business, not including yours. This can be exempted with a signed written consent of the adjoining impacted property owner.
  • You can't let animals, including livestock, run at large, and you can't tie or stake them out where they can be in and upon any street or alley within the city.
  • Any person owning or keeping any livestock or domestic fowl in the city needs to keep them adequately penned in an enclosure sufïiciently secure to prevent escape.

The intent of the last two points is to protect animals and people from the dangers of loose animals on streets and roadways.

It's a class "c" misdemeanor if your animals, including livestock, are allowed to roam free in the city. Other examples of class "c" misdemeanors are speeding tickets, expired vehicle registration, etc.

This regulation does not apply to the temporary possession (up to one week) of livestock at packing houses, veterinary clinics, or duly authorized stock shows, rodeos, fairs, circuses, carnivals, or livestock auction barns. 

What if your property already has an agricultural exemption?
If you currently have livestock on property within the city, you are grandfathered in as long as you continue to maintain that usage.

The purpose of the ordinance is to protect residents from people moving into a residential area and purchasing cattle or other livestock for their backyard, or other areas not suitable for the keeping of livestock.

There are areas within the city limits which have long been utilized for keeping livestock and those areas will remain available for that purpose if it is the intent of the current landowner. This ordinance will not affect or change that.

If a property owner, regardless of the size of the property or specific location within the city limits, was keeping livestock before this particular ordinance was passed, that property owner may continue to keep livestock on their property in the same manner they were keeping them before.   

Remember, there is no “ban” on livestock within the city limits, however, there are requirements that the amount of property be able to support the number of animals, and that they must be adequately contained.

Is this really a problem?
In short, yes. Animals that are allowed to roam free present a health and safety issue to themselves, other animals and most importantly, humans. 

The ordinance says if you own a dog in the city limits it must be inside of home or in an inspected cage, tagged and registered.

 Well, it doesn’t really. What the ordinance does say is that you can’t let your dog run or be loose on any public street, highway, alley, court, square, park, sidewalk or other public ground or public property within the city.

For all animals, the term “restraint” means on the premises of the owner and either (i) in the owner’s immediate presence and control or (ii) confined by a secure physical barrier (e.g., a fence, pen, or electronic fence in good working order), chain or tether, or leash or lead under the control of a person physically capable of restraining the animal; or if off the premises of the owner, secured by leash or lead under the control of a person physically capable of restraining the animal and obedient to that person’s commands. In the situation of duplexes, apartment complexes or other multi-residential areas, an animal is not under restraint if the animal is confined within a fence or other physical barrier that encloses the area that is common ground to all tenants, and the animal must be restrained by other allowable methods. 

The ordinance does require that you either microchip your pet or have it wear a collar with the owner’s telephone number (after the age of 4 months). This is simply to make sure that if lost, your pet can be returned to you. Of course, it also means that if your pet is not on your property and is being a less-than-good citizen, you’re responsible.

What the ordinance also requires, is that pets in Dayton be provided with sufficient wholesome and nutritious food, potable water, vet care when needed to prevent suffering, humane care and treatment, and adequate shelter to protect them from hot, stormy, cold or inclement weather.

Now other rules do apply for dogs considered to be dangerous - meaning they have made an unprovoked attack on a person or another dog that causes bodily injury and occurs in a place other than a secure enclosure in which the dog was being kept and that was reasonably certain to prevent the dog from leaving the enclosure on its own; or commits unprovoked acts and those acts cause a person to reasonably believe that the dog will attack and cause bodily injury to that person. This ordinance does not prohibit or single out any specific breed or type of dog. Texas State Law also regulates dangerous dogs in a similar manner.

Dayton is a rural community with 4-H and FFA members who raise livestock projects at their homes. Will this affect their ability to raise pigs or rabbits, chickens, lambs, goats and even show calves?
You’re absolutely right, and this ordinance will not impede with the ability of our 4-H and FFA members from participating in raising livestock projects, or with residents who want to keep livestock on their property, providing they do it in a manner that takes the health and well being of the animals, as well as the property rights of their neighbors into account.

The ordinance does require that livestock be properly restrained. Any person owning or keeping any livestock or domestic fowl within the city shall be required to keep such livestock or domestic fowl adequately penned in an enclosure sufficiently secure to prevent escape.

Will current livestock owners be grandfathered?

 Yes, if a property owner, regardless of the size of the property or specific location within the city limits, was keeping livestock before this particular ordinance was passed, that property owner may continue to keep livestock on their property in the same manner they were keeping them before. 

Under Texas law, new ordinances related to land usage cannot restrict current usage of property.  In other words, the restrictions on use in this ordinance do not apply to current landowners with livestock in the city.  The restrictions in this ordinance only apply to property owners that do not currently own livestock.

The purpose of the ordinance regarding the keeping of livestock is to protect residents from having someone move into a neighborhood area and keep cows or other livestock in their backyard, or other areas not suitable for the keeping of livestock.  

There are areas within the city limits which have long been utilized in keeping livestock and those areas will remain available for that purpose if it is the intent of the landowner. This ordinance will not affect or change that.

City limit signs are nearly to Mont Belvieu now and halfway to Old River. Will cows or horses be allowed in those areas?

Yes. Nowhere in the ordinance does it prohibit cows or horses, providing that they are properly maintained and fenced, allowing for distance between their enclosure and neighboring residences, businesses or public spaces.

None of these animals is strictly prohibited. Your pig would be fine, as would your neighbor’s hog, providing that they are properly housed and meet the setback requirements.

I’m in an annexed area and we have cows and hay. How will this affect us?

 If you’re currently keeping livestock, you may continue to keep livestock on your property in the same manner as before. 

I heard taxes are going to increase if you live on land. Is this true?

Dayton’s city tax rate was reduced at the Council’s August 2019 meeting. The 2019 tax rate is $0.6645/$100, down from the previous rate of $0.6821/$100. Although more money will be raised this year than last, it is from a combination of new property on the tax roll and an increase in property value on some properties.

On average, taxes on a property valued at $100,000 will decrease by about $4.50. The Liberty Central Appraisal District is responsible for determining the value of all properties on the tax roll.

For specific questions about your property appraisal, you may contact the Appraisal District at www.libertycad.com.


In short, Dayton will continue to have cattle, and other livestock, in the city limits.

The City of Dayton has not banned livestock, nor is a livestock ban on the agenda. That is a rumor that is simply false. The actual ordinance that was passed on September 16, 2019, is available here.