Am I Required to Keep my Dog on a Leash?

The state of California does not have a universal leash law that requires owners to keep all dogs on leashes.  As such, local governments, such as cities and counties, are allowed to pass their own leash law ordinances and most have enacted their own ordinances.

Generally, a pet owner has the legal responsibility to obey the local leash laws while out in public places with their pet.  However, there is an exception to the leash law.  If an owner and their pet are in a public place with signs that allow pets to be off-leash, such as designated “off-leash” dog parks, the pet can be off-leash.  Dogs must also be leashed if in the owner’s front yard unless there is a fence, barrier, or wall that prevents the dog from roaming free and separates the dog from the public.

For example, in Kings County, Article IV, Section 4-66 of the Kings County Municipal Code provides that a person who owns a dog must have it securely leashed when in public and the leash must be held continuously by a person who can control the dog, unless the dog is securely confined in a vehicle.  Similarly, Title 9, Chapter 9.04, Section 9.04.250 of the Fresno County Code of Ordinances requires a dog to be either on a leash or “under the immediate control of the owner or possessor” when the dog is not on the property of its owner.

These ordinances are enacted to protect the community and pets.  As such, there are benefits to keeping a dog on a leash, such as safety of people and your pet.  Dogs running at large can knock a person down or run out into the street and cause a car accident.  Additionally, a roaming dog could get hit by a car or get into fight with other dogs.  A dog owner’s failure to comply with the leash law in public places could result in liability if their dog bites another human or animal.

If you or someone you know has been bitten by a dog running at large, contact Dias Law Firm, Inc. to set up a consultation with our knowledgeable attorneys and staff.  We are here to assist you with your legal matters.

By: Ella R. Floresca, Esq.

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