Is It Illegal to Walk a Dog Without a Leash?

Walking your furry friend is a great way to keep them active and engaged. But is it legal to walk your dog without a leash? In Texas, there is no statewide leash law, but several cities, such as Houston, have local laws that require dog owners to leash their dogs in public areas or prevent them from running freely.

Leash Laws in Texas

Leash laws exist to protect the public from dog attacks and prevent the spread of diseases. These laws generally mandate that dog owners keep their pets on a leash or physically restrained when not on their property. Some laws even specify the minimum length of the leash, while others require the owner to keep the dog “under control,” which can include using voice commands.

If a law prohibits owners from allowing their dogs to roam freely, it means that owners must take reasonable steps to keep their pets within their property. However, owners may argue that they didn’t allow their dogs to escape by showing that the dog jumped a fence or dug a hole without their knowledge. To establish liability based on a leash law violation, a lawyer must carefully analyze the ordinance and anticipate any loopholes the owner may exploit.

Consequences of Walking Your Dog Without a Leash

Walking your dog without adhering to leash laws can have legal consequences. If a state or local law specifically requires dogs to be on a leash or under direct physical control, walking your dog without a leash can result in criminal charges, typically a misdemeanor. Furthermore, fines may be imposed, and the dog may be impounded until the owner pays the fine. If a dog bites or injures someone while not on a leash, the owner may face civil liability as well.

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Local Leash Laws

Different cities in Texas have their own leash laws. Here are some examples:

1. Houston Leash Laws

Under the Houston Municipal Code, dog owners must ensure their animals do not “run at large” by having direct physical control over them. Dogs are permitted to be unleashed in designated areas like dog parks but must be supervised and not left unattended.

2. Harris County Leash Laws

Harris County requires dog owners or handlers to keep their dogs “under restraint” in unincorporated areas. Failure to do so deems the dog a public nuisance and stray.

3. Katy Leash Laws

In Katy, dogs are not allowed to run freely on public or private property unless it is the owner’s fenced property or a designated dog park. When taking dogs to a dog park, owners must carry leashes and ensure their pets have current registration and rabies vaccination tags.

4. Pasadena Leash Laws

Under the Pasadena Code of Ordinances, dogs must remain on the owner’s premises unless they are under direct control by means of a secure leash or other equivalent means of physical control.

5. Bellaire Leash Laws

In Bellaire, dogs must always be under the control of the owner or keeper, using a leash, chain, rope, or cord not exceeding 10 feet in length. Dogs are prohibited from city parks and playgrounds except in designated areas.

Using Leash Laws in a Dog Bite Injury Claim

In Texas, dog bite victims must typically show that the dog owner had prior knowledge of the dog’s violent tendencies to hold the owner liable. However, local leash law violations can help establish negligence per se. If a victim can prove that the dog owner violated the leash law, resulting in their injuries, they may be entitled to compensation. For instance, if an owner fails to keep their dog under direct physical control, and the dog attacks, causing injuries, the victim may seek compensation for scarring, disfigurement, or other damages.

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Get Assistance from a Houston Dog Bite Lawyer

Navigating dog bite claims can be complex, especially when dealing with leash law violations. At Fleming Law, our experienced attorneys have been protecting the rights of dog bite victims in Houston and throughout Texas for over 30 years. We can investigate your case, review medical records, and pursue full compensation for your injuries. Contact us today for a free consultation about your dog bite case.

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