I just moved from the county into the sprawling metropolis big city of Cheyenne, and wondered: what do I have to do to make my dog legal?

A few years back, I lived in Thermopolis, where there is a registration fee for dogs. I asked around the office here and no one was entirely clear about whether I needed a separate tag here, too.

It turns out that all of this is written into Title 6 of Cheyenne's ordinances. They aren't exactly easy to find, but I've done the hard work for you. As it turns out, your dogs and cats are potentially registered if they're up to date on their vaccinations.

Ordinance 6.12.020 ties registration to rabies vaccinations, sort of. "The registration and rabies tag are valid for the period of the rabies vaccination or one year, whichever is shorter." There is no way to renew a registration except for a new rabies tag, so functionally the ordinance means we pet owners need to get our critters re-vaccinated annually, regardless of the effective length of the shots.

What other useful tidbits can be gleaned from the animal ordinances of Cheyenne? All of the common sense stuff applies: don't let your dog bark all day (or night!), keep her fenced or on a leash, make sure you give her good food, water and shelter. There are a few useful bits in there, too.

First of all, each Cheyenne home is limited to four animals. Anything over that amount and you'll need to seek licencing as a kennel. A four-month exception is granted when a litter of puppies is born.

You can be fined for not picking up after your animals, though critters granted permits for exhibition are exempt. (I suspect this was written into the ordinances so those riding horses in parades aren't forced to stop and scoop every few blocks.)

Also keep in mind that it's illegal to transport your dog (or any other critters) in the bed of your pickup in Cheyenne. If they're kenneled or somehow restrained from jumping out, that's OK.

Finally, if Fido takes a wander and is picked up by Animal Control, he'll be boarded at the Cheyenne Animal Shelter. When I was in Thermopolis, there was a big scandal over who owned a dog that had gotten picked up on the lam. (Don't ask me: I wrote many stories about it for the newspaper but never did come to a conclusion over who had the better claim to the dog.)

Ownership of pets is determined by that rabies tag, too. So if you're like me and just moving into town, you'll need to get your dog vaccinated again at a local veterinarian, or bring a certificate from your previous vet. Those certificates can be presented at the Animal Shelter, which establishes your ownership of the critter while also fulfilling your registration and vaccination requirements with the City.

So, how did things go with Mamadog? Her last vaccination was a three-year shot in Thermopolis, so I'll be getting her a new rabies shot here in the next few days. Then she'll be legal, and the vet can also record her RFID tag in case she ever does make a break from our new digs. Though that shouldn't happen: I'll make sure to keep giving her plenty of Milk Bones.