5 Dog Laws Every Owner Should Know About
While being a dog owner can be both fulfilling and fun, it also comes with some definite responsibility.There are responsibilities you have to your dog, to your family and to your community. And for those that neglect their responsibility - there are consequences.
Here are the top 5 dog laws that every owner should know about.
#1. Breed Specific Laws (BSL)
These laws have become a hotly debated topic over the past few years.
Breed Specific Laws (BSL) are laws targeting certain breeds deemed "dangerous" and "unpredictable". The laws creation is often in direct response to specific incidents involving dog bites or attacks - even though dog attacks and especially fatal dog attacks are quite rare. Breeds in the Guardian and Bull-Terrier type are the most targeted, but because bigger dogs pose more of a threat, large breeds in general can be a target.
As a dog trainer, I personally, do not support Breed Specific Laws. I believe it is the owners that need to be held accountable for their lack of socializing and obedience training with the dogs in these attack cases, not the breed or even the dog itself.
Unfortunately, these Breed Specific Laws are not going away anytime soon. Whatever your stance on them though, as a responsible dog owner, you should familiarize yourself with the risks and laws associated with the breed of dogs in your home.
Dog owners and supporters need to continue to educate and take a stand against irresponsible owners seeking dogs for guarding, dog-fighting and generally using dogs to project their "masculine"; image. If not, the dogs will continue to pay the ultimate unfortunate price.
#2. Noise Ordinances
Most cities and communities have noise ordinances in place and dog barking falls under this category.
Dogs that are left unattended for long periods of time tend to bark out of boredom and loneliness. Can you blame them? When this happens, neighbors can understandably become irritated and may call out a police officer to have them stop it.
Typically, the first time a police officer checks in with you for a barking dog complaint, you'll get only a written or verbal warning. If the situation is not corrected and they need to come back again, cash fines will follow. Dogs have even been removed from their homes and impounded in some especially severe cases!
In a previous blog, I discussed whether "Chaining or Tethering" a dog is a form of animal abuse. I personally believe it is if the dog is left unattended for more than 2 hours. In subsequent blogs, I discuss the amount appropriate time a dog can be left alone for, cases of separation anxiety in dogs and selecting a doggie daycare program.
Please remember your dog is your best friend and they want to be with you and your family. If you work long hours, please consider a dog walker or doggy daycare come by and never leave your dog outside chained or even fenced unattended in yard for more than 2 hours at a time.
#3. Leash Laws
Leashing helps keep your dog from running into the street or getting lost while on a stroll in the woods.
While in public, it is important that dog owners are always in control of their dog - no matter how friendly their dogs are. Not everyone is a dog lover, (I know, I know, I can't believe it either) and we need to respect those folks too!
The good news is off-leash areas are becoming more popular.
Certain areas allow off-leash walking and romping around. Do your research to find out where these places are. Some of these areas, like most dog parks, are regulated (making sure all the dogs are vaccinated and friendly with other dogs and people) and it is important to abide by their rules to help keep them open for business.
#4. The Pooper Scooper Law
There is almost no offense that gives dog owners a worse reputation than those owners that walk their dog letting them poop where they will - and without cleaning it up. Don't be THAT owner!
Make sure to always clean up after your furry buddy - both out of respect for those around you AND because the majority of city's and community's have a law to pick up after your pooch. Officers have no tolerance for this behavior. There can be some hefty cash fines if you decide it is not your responsibility to clean up after your dog and get caught.
It really is simple. Carry a portable poo bag container, pull one out when Fido is done taking care of business (you know what I mean), put your hand in the bag inside out, and pick up the deed, turn the bag outside in and tie. Carry with you until you find a trash can or bring home to dump in yours.
There are even some cities that require owners to pick up their dogs poo in their own backyard within a 24 hour period - in response no doubt, to some lazy dog owners with some really unhygienic yards. Gross.
#5. Dog Bite Laws
It should go without saying how serious a dog bite can be. When such an offense occurs, different cities and counties have different laws, but none of them are a good scenario.
Many states have a one-bite rule, meaning if it is your dog's first offense (and not serious) the dog is exempted from any consequences. In the State of Michigan (where I live), the one-bite rule is not applied here. Usually the standard is that the person that owns the dog is responsible and can be criminally or civilly prosecuted. Depending on the severity of the dog bite, some dog owners will just get a warning or be fined. However, in more serious instances or repeat cases, dogs will be quarantined and sometimes even euthanized.
IMPORTANT TO NOTE: Dog bite laws are not focused just on people. Laws are in place for cases where a dog attacks another animal as well. The law will hold the owner responsible and accountable for those attacks.
Spaying or neutering your dog is the number one way to prevent dog bites. Always maintain control of the interaction between children and dogs. Never leave your dog "chained or tethered" in your back yard unattended and always walk your dog with a leash.
I hope these laws help you to understand your responsibility as a GREAT dog owner!
Dog Bible, Edited by Kristin Mehus-Roe, 2005
~BostonBill~, Steve Kay, CaptPiper, Chicago Man, Snappy.jones, dgoomany