Your Dog and the Law – Legislation and Dog Ownership

The following is a list of possible laws in your area that can affect you and your dog.

Leash LawsLeashes legislation not only protect the community at large but also the dog. Normally, when a dog is in a public location, the owner must be in charge of the dog on a leash that’s six feet or less. Complaints may lead to fines, warnings, and/or having the dog impounded. Many municipalities have specifically designated areas where a dog might be off-leash so long as it’s licensed, current on its vaccinations, and friendly to people and other dogs.

Noise Ordinances – These ordinances are common in many cities and frequently include excessive barking. Complaints may lead to fines, warnings, and sometimes even with the dog impounded.

Livestock Legislation – In many rural regions dogs can legally be taken or euthanized for harassing or killing livestock and the operator may have to compensate for any losses.

Animal Cruelty Laws – These laws are designed to protect animals including dogs. Definitions vary widely throughout different regions which range from intentional killing or injury to failure in providing water, food, and shelter to abandonment. Penalties also differ widely from felony convictions to penalties and misdemeanors.

Chaining and Tethering – Many municipalities have banned using chains or tethers or put time limits because they make the dog vulnerable to attack from other animals, often create aggressive behavior, particularly towards children, and also make for poor overall quality of life for your dog. Some towns also set a minimum size for dog enclosures.

Bite Legislation – Dogs that bite people, other dogs, or animals causing harm are subject to confiscation, quarantine, or euthanization. Owners could be held criminally and/or civilly responsible. The severity of the punishment will ordinarily depend on the seriousness of the injury in addition to the background of the dog. Law enforcement dogs, and their handlers, however, are protected from prosecution when a dog bites in the course of his job.

Poop Scoop Laws – Apart from the unpleasant appearance and odor, dog urine can create a public health hazard. Most urban areas fine owners that don’t clean up after their dog in public locations. Some even require that stool be eliminated from owners’ properties within a particular time period.

Service Dogs – In America, the Americans with Disabilities Act requires that all public places be accessible to individuals with disabilities including people who use service dogs. Service dogs are permitted access by law to any public place as long as they adhere to other legislation like leash laws, etc..

Working Dogs – Working dogs are protected by law from misuse and/or being overworked. In many locations, greyhound racing was banned, in addition to some types of searching, and using dogs for drafting work.

Licensing – Nearly all U.S. municipalities require licensing and levy penalties for non-compliance. Typically to be licensed a dog has to be current on all required vaccinations and sometimes, the license fee could be greater if the dog hasn’t been spayed or neutered. Some cities prohibit breeding altogether.

Pet Theft – Dog theft is typically treated the same as the theft of personal property. In America, theft by traders or groups that provide animals to testing labs is covered by the Animal Welfare Act.

Antifreeze Legislation – Antifreeze is typically sweet to the taste, yet highly poisonous. Some places require that antifreeze have a bitter agent added to it, to make it less palatable, but this doesn’t normally apply to wholesalers. Countless dogs die each year because of poisoning.

Airline Laws – From the U.S. puppies being transported by airlines have to have adequately sized and ventilated kennels with handles and be clearly marked. They have to also be provided with sufficient water and food based on their age. Puppies under 8 weeks old are not permitted.

Breed Bans – Many cities, counties, states, or countries, and even nations have introduced laws banning or controlling specific dog breeds. These are typically directed at the pit-bull or other guardian breeds. It’s also not uncommon to find specific apartments, housing complexes, or gated communities banning specific breeds. Some insurance companies are also not insuring homeowners with specific breeds.

To learn the specific rights and obligations you have as a dog owner contact the local animal control agency.