Pay Attention to Your Area's Dog Leash Laws

Make sure you know your area's dog leash laws!

Across the country, many states have implemented state-wide dog leash laws, usually known as "Running at Large Statutes." These laws range in severity and strictness, depending on the states designation. Not all states have these "Running at Large Statutes", though. Instead, they allow local governments, such as towns, cities, and boroughs, to create their own leash laws. Oftentimes, the local government laws are even stricter!

What Is Usually Included in a Dog Leash Law?

Dog leash laws all depend on the state. Some of the strictest state-wide laws come from Michigan and Pennsylvania; their laws require that ALL dogs require some form of control or restraint when they are not on an owner's property. That technically means that you cannot even take your dog to a quiet park and play catch with him without facing a fine.

Some places are more strict than others when it comes to their leash laws.

By placing an indirect mandate, other states (besides Michigan and Pennsylvania) have laws that can be equally strict, but are open for interpretation. Laws in these states outlaw loose dogs, which allow officers to interpret what exactly a loose dog is. I know, kind of tricky. Other moderate states have put laws in place that require dogs to be on leashes in specific locations: beaches, parks, schools, and protected natural areas.

Of course, not all states are as strict. Many states only require dogs to be leashed at certain times of the day- usually sunrise and sunset-, others require that female dogs be leashed when they are in heat, and some have comprehensive codes from dogs that are considered "vicious" or "dangerous".

Controversial Dog Leash Laws

Kentucky has one of the most bizarre and outrageous laws in place. It's laws indicate that "any peace officer or animal control officer may seize and destroy any dog found running at large between the hours of sunset and sunrise and unaccompanied and not under the control of its owner and handler." Power to destroy??? Not surprisingly, this law has caused quite a bit of controversy around the country because it gives certain citizens the power to interpret a law that deals with life and death and allows them bring the law into their own hands. I can't say I blame them for the outrage.

In places like Kentucky, having your dog on a leash is a life or death issue, literally.

In some areas, dog leash laws have even caused controversy among members of the community. In October of 2013, the Scarborough Town Council (a small town in Maine) unexpectedly passed a law that required all dogs to be on a leash in public at all times. Citizens, who were only expecting dog leashes to be required on the beaches to protect endangered piping plover birds, were outraged by the new law. Resident Liam Somers said, "They did not listen to the people. They never had any intention of listening to the people. This goes so far beyond benefitting the plover. The plovers are on the beaches for four months. They just banned dogs everywhere for 12. Explain that. This is insane."

No matter where you stand on the dog leash issues, one thing's for sure: if you're a dog owner, it's important to have a leash for your dog.


By: Tim Snyder
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