Leash laws vary by state and locality. In general, they require that dogs be kept on leashes unless confined to a house or fenced yard. Confinement of the dogs must also be effective, which means that simply restraining them with your voice is not adequate. Your local ordinance will specify what is and is not effective confinement.
What If My Dog Stays on My Property?
Sometimes, dogs will stay in their owners' yards or property without being fenced in. However, this may not be adequate according to local leash laws. In many cases, even when a dog is on your own property, it must still be confined or leashed.
How Can I Properly Exercise My Dog Without Violating Leash Laws?
Many communities allow dogs to be unleashed in designated areas. Often, there are specified dog parks or dog runs where dogs can be exercised off their leashes.
What Are the Penalties for Violating Leash Laws?
Leash law violations usually require a small fine. In general, the fine increases with continuous violations. If you violate the local leash law once, you may simply get a warning, or a small fine. Upon violating the law again, the fine will increase to as much as several hundred dollars, and will continue to do so with each subsequent violation.
What If an Unleashed Dog Injures Someone?
A violation of a leash law combined with a dog biting or attacking someone can greatly increase the penalties involved. Courts will often deem the violation to be enough to conclude that the owner was negligent, which would entitle the injured person to appropriate compensation.
What Are the Specifics of Dog Leash Laws?
In addition to requiring that your dog be leashed or confined, leash laws may also regulate:
- The maximum length permitted for a dog's leash
- Whether animal control can pick up a dog that is not properly leashed
- The rules surrounding use of dogs for hunting
- Whether the laws vary by the breed of dog
- When dogs must also be muzzled
- Whether leash laws regulate other animals, such as cats
Should I Contact an Attorney About My Leash Law Issue?
Whether you have been attacked by a dog or own a dog that attacked someone, an experienced personal injury attorney can help you. A personal injury attorney can explain how your local leash laws affect your case and can represent you in court.