Good to know

In a number of local authorities, chipping and registration of dogs is mandatory. In Tallinn, the same rules apply to cats.

What is a microchip?

A microchip is a small biocapsule that contains electronic information and carries a unique digital 16-digit number combination.

How is it installed?

A veterinarian places a microchip under the animal’s skin, using a syringe-like instrument. Consequently, the procedure is no more painful than a routine vaccination shot. The microchip is easily found under the skin by a microchip reader.

How can it be located in an animal?

The presence of a microchip can be verified, using a special microchip reader. If a chip has been placed, the relevant number is displayed on the microchip reader’s screen. Most times, the chip is placed in the left side of the neck which makes it easier to locate it later.

How does it protect the animal?

Microchipping provides a guarantee that the animal’s owner is identified very fast. The microchip also comes in handy in proving ownership if an animal is stolen.

Does a microchip in a dog pose a risk to the health of the dog or the owner?

Microchips do not carry a charge, do not emit radiation, and do not cause tissue damage. A microchip is activated only by the signal emitted by the chip reader.

What should I do with the data I receive?

Based on the owner’s application, microchipped animals are registered in the nation-wide pet register, connected to the pan-European register Europetnet. Animal owners themselves may register their animal in the local authorities’ pet register or request the assistance of an official authorized by the local government to carry out such registrations.

NB! A chip without a corresponding database entails a useless number combination, while the database allows for the animal’s owner and their contact details to be easily found. Therefore, it is essential that you indeed register your pet. Regrettably, the situation related to pet registers is still quite confusing in Estonia today.

In Estonia, the capture, keeping, ascertainment of the owner, but also the killing of stray animals is governed by a regulation (available in Estonian) which is applied by local authorities on their  administrative territory. Pursuant to the procedure in force, a city or rural municipality official must be notified of a stray animal, applying for authorization to take the animal to a shelter. Prior arrangements are not required in the city of Tallinn and in the towns of Pärnu, Rakvere, Viljandi, and Võru.

Pursuant to the procedure in force, during the first 14 days after an animal arrives at a shelter, the shelter must search for the animal’s owner. After expiry of said two weeks, the animal may be given to a new home or euthanized. The term starts as from publication of the animal’s picture or description and not as from arrival of the animal in the shelter! 

In Estonia, the catching, keeping, owner identification but also killing of stray animals is regulated by the regulation which is applied by the local government on its administrative territory. According to the rules in place, in case of a stray animal, first the official of the city or rural municipality where the animal was found, must be notified and permission must be asked for taking the animal to the shelter. If necessary, the local government official will call the animal catcher. Prior agreement is not necessary in Tallinn, Pärnu, Rakvere, Viljandi and Võru City.

  • Contacts of rural municipalities that have contracts with the Tallinna Loomade Hoiupaik shelter can be found here.
  • Contacts of rural municipalities that have contracts with the Tartu Koduta Loomade Varjupaik shelter can be found here.
  • Contacts of rural municipalities that have contracts with the NPO Animal Shelters in Estonia (Varjupaikade MTÜ) can be found here.

According to the rules in place, the shelter must look for the animal’s owner for the first 14 days after the animal arrives. After two weeks, the animal can be given to a new home or euthanized. It is important to know that the 14-day-count does not start with the animal arriving to the shelter but from the moment the animal’s picture or description is published.



Paljassaare tee 85, 10313, Tallinn

Information: 51 41 431,


Harjumaa. Services are also provided partly for Rapla and Järva counties

Sinirebase 24, 11217, Tallinn

Information: 631 4747 (24h), 53 494 045 (10-17)


Tartu ja Tartumaa. Services are also provided partly for Põlva and Valga counties

Roosi 91K, Raadi linnaosa, 51009, Tartu

Information:  53 339


Viljandi ja Viljandimaa

Tüma, Mustivere küla, 71067, Viljandi vald

Information: 52 38


Pärnu ja Pärnumaa

Raba 32, 80041, Pärnu
Information: 52 46


Võru ja Võrumaa

Lühike 3, 65604, Võru
Information: 53 404


Valga ja Valgamaa

Laatsi 11a, 68205, Valga
Information: 52 99



Kasarmu 3, 44317, Rakvere
Information: 53 090



Viigardi, Vilkla küla, Ridala vald, 90422, Läänemaa

Information: 52 38 957,



Tehnika põik 3, Kohtla-Järve, 30331, Ida-Virumaa

Information: 58018486 ( eesti),  52815445023741 (vene)



Information: 58 370 708,

Permitted veterinary procedures for animals include:

1) castration;
2) sterilization;
3) cropping;
4) clipping of hooves;
5) tattooing of animals and implantation of animals with a micro-chip identification system;
6) surgeries of dogs used in hunting;
7) clipping of corner teeth of piglets, shortening of the fangs of boars;
8) clipping the tails of piglets;
9) fitting bulls with nose-rings and fitting of boars kept in outdoor pens with nose rings;
10) trimming the beak of chicks.

The objective of cropping is to reduce injuries that animals can cause one another. Cropping must be undertaken on a calf before the calf turns two months old, the best time is when horns have just begun to emerge. Cropping should preferably be performed under local anesthesia using a cautery and the procedure must be carried out by a person trained therefor. Cropping with chemical substances is not recommended.

Removal of horns from adult animals should not be seen as a routine method but can, however, be used in individual cases to ensure the wellbeing of other animals.

Clipping of corner teeth of piglets, shortening of the fangs of boars, and clipping the tails is permitted only in the interest of the health and wellbeing of other pigs if they exhibit injuries on their ears, tails, or udder. For example, tail biting in piglets is caused by stress induced by poor feeding and keeping conditions. Resolving of the issue should start with improvements of the animals’ wellbeing.

To prevent pecking of feathers and cannibalism, the beak of chicks less than 10 days of age can be trimmed by a suitably trained person. Once again, attention should be paid to feeding and keeping conditions as this behavioral disorder is significantly less prevalent among poultry if wellbeing is ensured.

In castrating and sterilizing animals, the necessity thereof should be weighed and a method should be found which is most suited to the particular animal species in question. Rubber bands may not be used in castration as this causes animals long-term and lasting pain.

Prohibited veterinary procedures:

Surgeries and other veterinary procedures that alter the appearance of an animal and that are not performed for the purpose of medical treatment are prohibited.

This requirement foremost relates to cropping of the ears and docking of the tail of cats and dogs – only a few years ago this was a permitted procedure in Estonia as pertaining to certain animal species. As from January 1, 2001, cropping of the ears and docking of the tail of cats and dogs is prohibited in Estonia. A person performing such procedures is punished by a fine.

The ear cropping and tail docking of dogs and cats is allowed only in the event of medical indications.
Tail docking is permitted only in piglets if the herd exhibits signs of cannibalism. This procedure is not permitted in other animals.

Slaughter, emergency slaughter, and killing of animals

From the perspective of ethics and morality, animal slaughter has been an exceedingly controversial issue throughout the times. The general rule states that in slaying an animal, a method for slaughter and killing that causes the animal the least possible amount of physical and mental suffering must be chosen. For an information brochure on animal welfare in slaughterhouses click here.

An exception here is the killing of an animal where an attack by the animal endangers human life or health and the attack cannot be prevented or repelled in any other manner. The killing of a protected animal is regulated by the Republic of Estonia Nature Conservation Act. An animal that is in a helpless state as a result of an accident or emergency may be killed where survival would cause long-time suffering to the animal or where the animal cannot be granted species-specific life or where the re-introduction of the animal to its natural habitat proves to be impossible. Emergency slaughter constitutes the slaughter of a farm animal out of mercy or so as to prevent economic damage if treatment or keeping alive of such an animal would cause the farm animal lasting suffering.

Pursuant to the Animal Protection Act, permitted killing of animals includes:

1) slaughter or killing of a farm animal;
2) killing of day-old chicks and embryos in hatchery waste;
3) emergency slaughter of a farm animal;
4) killing of an animal in a helpless state;
5) slaughter of an animal for religious purposes;
6) animal euthanasia;
7) killing of caught fish;
8) hunting of game;
9) extermination of noxious insects and rodents;
10) diagnostic slaughter of animals and killing animals in order to control the spreading of an infectious animal disease as prescribed by the Republic of Estonia Infectious Animal Disease Control Act;
11) killing of an animal for self-protection.

The killing of an animal in the presence of a minor is prohibited, except:

1) extermination of noxious insects and rodents;
2) fishing;
3) killing of an animal in a helpless state;
4) killing relating to a study assignment in vocational education in the presence and at the liability of a supervisor.

An immense amount of regulations and laws regulate the activities concerning animals, birds, but also fishing, hunting and activities related with other species. We have gathered the majority of these here.

The main national animal protection legislation includes the Animal Protection Act, the Infectious Animal Disease Control Act, the Veterinary Activities Organisation Act and regulations enforced based on this legislation. The Nature Conservation Act, the Hunting Act and the Fishing Act are also relevant in terms of animal protection because these regulate the protection and use of animals living free in nature. All national legislation is available on the webpage of the official gazette of the Republic of Estonia Riigi Teataja.

The Animal Protection Act regulates the protection of animals from human acts or omissions that endanger or may endanger the health or welfare of animals. According to the Animal Protection Act, an animal is a mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian, fish or invertebrate.

The aim of the Nature Conservation Act is to protect the natural environment by promoting the preservation of biodiversity through ensuring the natural habitats and the populations of species of wild fauna, flora and fungi at a favourable conservation status, preserve natural environments of cultural or esthetical value, or elements thereof and to promote the sustainable use of natural resources.

The Hunting Act provides for the creation and use of hunting districts, monitoring of wild game, harvest quotas and structure, and other principles of hunting. It determines the documents certifying hunting rights and provides for the compensation for damage caused by wild game, and the state supervision and liability.

Aim of the Fishing Act is to ensure the conservation and economic use of fish and aquatic plant resources on the basis of internationally recognized principles of responsible fisheries, to ensure the reproduction capacity of fish and aquatic plant resources and the productivity of bodies of water, and to avoid undesirable changes in the ecosystem of bodies of water.

The Infectious Animal Disease Control Act regulates the protection of animals from infectious animal diseases. This Act provides measures for infectious animal disease control and regulates the application of such measures and payment of compensation for damage caused by infectious animal diseases.

The Veterinary Activities Organisation Act provides the basis for the organisation of veterinary activities. Veterinary activities are a system of measures applied to protect animal and human health and to ensure the welfare of animals. It includes activities in the areas of animal health, animal product hygiene and animal protection.

The Forest Act regulates the directing of forestry, forest survey and management, and compensating the damage caused to the environment within the meaning of this Act, and provides for liability for violation of this Act.

Penal Code

Many pet owners have issues as pertaining to rules applied to cat and dog owners. Namely, the rules contain a multitude of provisions that lead to questions and dissenting opinions. Provisions of such rules that constitute the foremost cause of concern include articles which regulate the number of animals in one family, demand permission from other residents if a pet is kept in an apartment building, prohibit feeding of stray animals, and permit the killing of strays. The objective of this informative publication is to explain which provisions constitute the most widely used articles that are in fact contrary to the law, and to provide guidance as to what action to take if a pet owner is fined or warned based on said provisions.

The Estonian Union for the Protection of Animals has dealt with this issue the longest and the Union’s lawyers claim that topics related to rules applied to cat and dog owners by local governments are of exceedingly acute nature indeed. The foremost issue lies in the contrary nature of such rules to the law and even the Constitution itself. The Union believes that enforcement of said peculiar, drastic, and unclear norms which are contrary to valid laws constitutes an attempt by local governments to solve issues related to stray animals. Such actions in laying down norms are not legitimate and are not permissible upon performing the authority of the state.


A number of local governments have prohibited in their rules applied to cat and dog owners the feeding of stray animals, and have indeed set out to punish individuals based on this prohibition. It is important to note at this point that the prohibition on feeding stray animals is contrary to the Constitution and the Chancellor of Justice as well has voiced his opinion in this respect (the Chancellor of Justice also instituted supervision proceedings as pertaining to the local governments that did implement said prohibition on feeding of strays). One does not have to adhere to provisions of any rules that are contrary to the law.

Some local governments are of the opinion that the person that feeds an animal becomes the owner of the fed animal by way of the act of feeding the animal, and that such feeding worsens the situation of the stray animal as the person feeding the animal is not adhering to all requirements imposed on pet owners, merely providing food for the animal and consequently making it more difficult to catch said animal. The Union hereby explains that one does not become an animal’s owner simply by feeding the animal. Becoming an owner requires actual volition of the person to become the owner, to take care of the animal, and to act in relation to the animal in a manner appropriate to a pet owner. Many individuals that feed strays do not actually possess the means and opportunity to keep the animals and, consequently, are trying to better the animal’s situation to the best of their capability. On account of this, such individuals should not be blamed if they do not commence to take care of the animal as an owner. The Union is of the opinion that feeding of strays in no way worsens the stray animals’ situation. The argument related to catching of the animals also does not prove appropriate justification to enforcing the relevant prohibition. To catch stray animals, the local government could always cooperate with persons feeding the strays. The inability of the local government to resolve the issue in a manner provided for by law does not justify the application of such an extreme measure (prohibition on feeding stays). If an animal is not fed, they may become even more estranged from people. Feeding of stray animals maintains at least some contact between the animals and people.

Everyone should be aware of the fact that if a stray is found, the animal should immediately be reported to the local government to enable the stray animal to be returned to its owner as soon as possible or to be taken to a shelter if required. Namely, the local government is obligated by law to arrange for catching of stray animals, taking them to a shelter, and identifying their owner or finding a new owner for them. Consequently, all stray animals should be reporter to the local government. Regrettably, the Union’s experience indicates that a large proportion of local governments in Estonia have been unable to ensure performance of their said obligation, deriving from the law, to make arrangements as pertaining to stray animals and, oftentimes, local governments provide no response to a report of a stray animal or even refuse to tackle the matter at all. If, regardless of immediate notification, the local government refuses to handle a stray, do not hesitate to contacts the Estonian Union for the Protection of Animals – the Union is ready to communicate with the local government so as to contribute to a faster solution to the problem. The Union hereby stresses the fact that a stray animal should be reporter to the local government and, if possible, to a shelter immediately after such an animal is discovered.


Oftentimes, local governments lay down provisions in their rules, restricting the number of pets kept in an apartment or requiring permission of other residents in an apartment building for keeping a pet in one’s apartment.

The Union explains that the right to own an animal constitutes a constitutional right of every individual and one is not obligated to ask for permission from other residents in an apartment building to do so. Restricting the number of animals kept in one family is also contrary to the Constitution. Relevant provisions are also contradictory to legislation pertaining to ownership.

Pet owners should, nevertheless, adhere to the Republic of Estonia Animal Protection Act and legislation laid down based thereon, prescribing requirements in terms of feeding and providing water, freedom of movement, space, medical treatment etc. The rights of a pet owner’s neighbors must be considered as well, ensuring that the concurrent negative effects (e.g. dog barking, howling) would not be excessively disturbing and would not significantly damage the neighbors’ rights in using their property. Consequently, taking a pet, one must always make sure that applicable requirements are not violated and wellbeing for the animal is ensured, thereat considering the rights of the neighbors. The Union hereby directs attention to the fact that a pet owner may be held liable for an offence if they violate rules for keeping of pets and/or significantly disturb their neighbors.

The Union hereby considers it necessary to explain that above restrictions (restrictions on the number of pets, requirement for neighbor approval) have been laid down in the rules of procedure of a number of apartment buildings. Nevertheless, the rules of procedure applicable to apartment owners as well must be in adherence to the law and constitutional rights may not be violated. Disputes pertaining to administration and use of apartment ownerships generally constitute civil disputes that would be resolved in a court of law. However, in such an event, the party that recourses to the courts should be the apartment association and not the apartment owner that is not adhering to such provisions which are contrary to the law. The Union hereby emphasizes that apartment owners must maintain the physical share of their apartment ownership in good order and in using said physical share and the object of relevant common ownership refrain from actions, the effect of which on other apartment owners exceeds the effects arising from normal use of ownership (owners must clean up after their pets and the keeping of pets must not significantly disturb the peace of others).


A number of relevant rules provide that a stray or dangerous animal may be killed on site. However, these provisions are contrary to the Republic of Estonia Animal Protection Act.

Namely, the Animal Protection Act regulates animal killing. Permitted killing of an animal means the following:

1) slaughter or killing of a farm animal;

2) killing of day-old chicks and embryos in hatchery waste;

3) emergency slaughter of a farm animal;

4) killing of an animal in a helpless state;

5) slaughter of an animal for religious purposes;

6) animal euthanasia;

7) killing of caught fish;

8) hunting of game;

9) extermination of invertebrates, moles and rodents for the purpose of protection of property or health;

10) diagnostic slaughter of animals and killing animals in order to control the spreading of an infectious animal disease as prescribed by the Infectious Animal Disease Control Act;
11) killing of an animal for self-protection, whereat an animal may be killed in self-defense where an attack by the animal endangers human life or health and the attack cannot be prevented or repelled in any other manner.

Furthermore, the Animal Protection Act does not permit immediate killing of stray animals. Killing is possible only if prerequisites provided for by law (the animal has been in a shelter for at least 14 days as from publication of a description of the animal and the animal’s owner has not been found) are present.

In the Union’s assessment local governments have neither the need nor the right to additionally regulate in their rules the topic of permitted killing of animals or to lay down corresponding requirements (overregulation) – relevant regulation has already been provided for in the Animal Protection Act. Provisions of relevant rules may not be contrary to the law and the local government does not have the right to overstep the boundaries of its competence and authority in laying down such rules. 

Pursuant to the law, the local government has the right and it is within the local government’s competence to regulate issues related to keeping of cats and dogs. Regulation of the admissibility of killing of an animal can only fall within the competence of the legislator. Furthermore, killing of an animal is deemed to constitute an offence as per the requirements provided for in the Animal protection Act; issues related to animals relate to the right of ownership and protection of property, on account of which, in addition to not having the relevant right, it is especially dangerous for local governments to encourage people to execute animals by laying down an improper norm.


If a local government or the police has issued an official report, fined you, or applied other coercive measures based on unlawful rules, the aforementioned should most certainly be disputed. You should adhere to legal terms for submission of an objection or contestation of a fine and keep all existing related documents at hand. Lawyers with the Estonian Union for the Protection of Animals can assist you in such objections if required.

We consider it necessary to add by way of additional information that the Chancellor of Justice instituted proceedings to verify adherence to the Constitution of the provision delegating authority provided for in § 22 (1) 36²) of the Republic of Estonia Local Government Organisation Act (which grants into the competence of a municipal council the establishment of rules for keeping cats and dogs) and § 66³ of the same Act (which prescribed liability for violation of rules for keeping cats and dogs) and found that above norms are contrary to the Constitution as the legislator has not provided for an explicit objective, content, and extent as pertaining to the council of relevant local government unit. In the assessment of the Chancellor of Justice, also questionable is the necessity of said provision delegating authority.

In the Union’s assessment, requirements concerning the objective of prescribing rules (ensuring of the safety of people or of the upkeep of the city/town) must be laid down in national legislation. On December 14, 2010 the Chancellor of Justice sent to the Regional Minister and the Ministry of the Interior a memorandum containing the proposal to develop within three months as from receipt of the memorandum a draft to eliminate the discrepancy between relevant provisions of the Local Government Organisation Act and the Constitution. The Union does not possess information as to the development of said draft legislation.

Source: Home page of the EUPA