4 Legal Factors to Consider as a Dog Owner

Reviewed By Tom •  Updated: 02/10/21 •  4 min read
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Being a pet owner comes with a lot of responsibilities. It is your responsibility as a dog parent to be learn and follow any laws that apply to your pet. Luckily, if you’re not already familiar with them, it’s not that difficult to learn about the rules and regulations in your state. You can contact your local town office or city hall to give you all the legal information you need. You may also get in touch with your local animal control officer as they are experts when it comes to pet laws. 

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However, pet laws are not identical from state to state, so if you’ve moved recently and you’re a dog owner, you’ll definitely want to become familiar with all of the pet laws in your new area. 

1. Vaccination 

Dog owners are required to give their pets mandatory vaccinations as decided by the city or the state in which they reside. While this doesn’t apply to most pet vaccinations, the rabies vaccine is required in almost every city or state.

Rabies vaccination is a requirement that is in place for the safety of the humans, since rabies is generally fatal for humans if not treated immediately, and eventually fatal for animals that contract it. The frequency of rabies vaccination also varies from city to city and state to state. There are also some states that allows dog owners to vaccinate their pets themselves while others require that only a licensed veterinarian is allowed to vaccinate your pet. Additionally, there are now states that provides exemptions to the rabies vaccination if it poses a risk to the dog, such as allergies or other medical complications. 

Failure to abide by vaccination mandates can lead to a range of penalties, fines, confiscation of the dog, and even jail time. These penalties will be determined by the city or the state where the dog owner resides.

2. Dog Waste

In the US, dog owners are required to abide the local ordinances mandated by the city regarding pet waste. It is mandatory for them to pick up and dispose their dog’s waste sanitarily when dropped anywhere aside from your own property. These ordinances are designed to keep cities clean and to help prevent disease spreading among humans and dogs alike.  

Failure to abide by these ordinances can lead to fines and penalties which varies from city to city. With or without no laws about dog waste, being a responsible dog owner means grabbing a plastic bag when your pet needs to go while on the walk. By doing so, you can help keep your property, neighborhood, and city clean.

3. Dog-Bite Statutes

Another legal factor that every dog owner should consider are dog-bite statutes. These are strict liability statutes that places the liability on the dog owner should their pet causes an injury to other animals or to humans. You can even sue a dog owner if their pet causes you have an accident, which you can learn more about if you click here.

However, dog bite statutes only apply if the injured individual didn’t provoke the dog. Additionally, dog bite statutes don’t necessarily refer to only biting incidents—they may also cover other types of injury as well.  

4. Leash Laws

Laws regarding keeping your pets leashed are mandated by most cities to preserve the safety of the animals and the citizens. While the details of your local leash laws may differ from others in surrounding cities, almost every single one dictates that dogs that are not in a specified off-leash spot must be kept leashed at all times. If you are going to take your dog for a walk or run in a park you are required to keep them under control with a leash

The laws can differ significantly from state to state. One may state that dogs only need to be leashed during certain times of the day while another may even allow dog parents to have their pets off-leash if they are completely trained. Failure to abide by the leash laws will immediately result to a fine. Fines vary from city to city that set out these laws.  

Final Thoughts

Being a responsible dog owner is all about commitment. There are still so many laws that you have to consider as a dog owner. The ones we discussed above only touch the most pressing legal responsibilities of a dog owner.  As a responsible dog owner, you need to be familiar with all of these dog laws for the sake of your beloved pets. The best place to know about these laws is to go to your local animal control services center or visit their website online. 

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Tom has always loved to write since he was little - he wanted to be either a writer or a veterinary doctor, but he ended up being a professional writer while most of his works are based on animals. He was born in San Francisco but later moved to Texas to continue his job as a writer. He graduated from the University of San Francisco where he studied biotechnology. He is happily married and a soon to be father!

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