Dean Cain needs a tighter leash ... for himself and his dog -- his pooch was nearly sent to animal control after sneaking out, all because the actor failed to register his best friend.
Law enforcement sources tell us Cain's black lab Bella got loose last week but a good samaritan saved the day, and dropped her off at Malibu Coast Animal Hospital. Here's the problem: Bella wasn't licensed with the city ... so she was automatically labeled a stray.
Bad, Dean. Bad.
Under standard ops all strays go straight to the pound -- but lucky for Cain he found out where Bella was within a few hours ... and raced over to pay the impound fee and then get her licensed.
Total cost for Dean -- $58. Keeping Bella out of the pound -- priceless
Good, Dean. Good!