Playing by the Rules: 7 Dog Laws Every Puppy Lover Should Be Familiar With


As any dog owner will testify, owning can be a privilege and a responsibility in equal measure, which means you have to be aware of your responsibilities to not only look after your pets needs but to also ensure that they do not harm anyone. 

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If you are shown to be a negligent dog owner who has failed to control their dog it could have serious consequences if the person who has been attacked then decides to sue you for compensation.

You might want to visit a site like www.AtlantaAdvocate.com/georgia-dog-bite-lawyers/ to get more background information on this subject. In the meantime, here is a look at some of the main dog laws that every responsible owner should be aware of.

Every state is different

The first thing to point out is that every state has a different set of laws when it comes to establishing an owners liability for dog bites.

It is the case that some states simply follow common law and have a general view of these sorts of incidents, whereas other states have enacted specific statutory laws that are in the form of Dog Bite Statutes.

Where a state has a specific Dog Bite Statute this will take precedence over common laws.

You can’t be expected to know all of these different laws and it is always wise to seek professional guidance if you find yourself being subjected to an injury claim. However, there are some basic principles that tend to be applied across most states.

Keeping up to date with vaccinations

From the moment your puppy is born and throughout their life, you will need to be responsible for keeping their vaccinations up to date.

The specific vaccinations that you have to lawfully give your dog will vary across different states and you should check which ones are applicable to your area.

One vaccination that is required throughout the United States is the rabies vaccine.

You could be prosecuted if you don’t keep up to date and if your dog subsequently bites someone this would be even more serious and may even result in the confiscation of your dog.

Pick up their poo

It might be the most unpleasant aspect of dog ownership but you have a responsibility to pick up their mess and it is mandatory in the majority cities across the country.

The only place where you don’t have to pick up dog waste by law is your own property, but you wouldn’t really want to leave that lying around anyway.

Clean up after your pooch and demonstrate your credentials as a responsible dog owner.

Is your dog license up to date?

It is almost a universal requirement covering the majority of states that you purchase a license for your pet on an annual basis.

It might be that you can buy a lifetime license instead, whichever way it works in your area, the main point about keeping up with this requirement is that it provides a way of tracking the owner if the dog gets lost or is involved in an incident.

If you don’t have a dog license you can expect to face a fine and if your dog gets loose and is picked up by animal control officers if it doesn’t have a license it may end up getting euthanized if they are unable to trace the owner.

Keeping adequate control of your dog

It should be understood that leash laws are in place to protect people from loose dogs, even though the majority of pooches would sooner lick you than bite you.

Even if your pet is very well behaved and good off the leash that doesn’t mean you can ignore the laws that are in place in your area.

If you fail to keep your dog leashed in an area where leash laws are in effect you risk being issued with a ticket for your troubles.

Some states do allow a degree of leniency and will allow dog owners to have their dogs off-leash if they are under complete control, but it would be prudent to check before assuming this is ok to do.

If your dog bites someone

You should be aware of your dog's temperament and have a reasonable idea of whether they are likely to attack or bite someone when they have the opportunity.

If you think they could do this you must take steps to muzzle the dog and keep it under your control on the leash.

If the worst happens and your dog bites someone, it could be a situation that is covered by the “one-bite” rule if it applies in your state.

If there is a dog bite statute in place, that takes precedence over the one-bite rule.

What the one-bite rule is about is that if you knew that your dog might cause an injury you could be held liable. However, you can argue against the accusation if you can show that the victim provoked your dog into attacking them.

Causing a nuisance

Finally, a dog might be doing what comes naturally to it by barking but if they do it too frequently you could fall foul of local state laws.

You could find that your area has specific laws that are designed to tackle barking dogs that are perceived to be causing a public nuisance.

It is not always that easy to determine what actually constitutes a nuisance, but if your dog is barking consistently during unsociable hours they could be considered a nuisance.

You will most likely be given a warning at first, followed by a fine if the barking continues. If you still don’t address the problem you could ultimately be forced to hand over your dog to animal control.

Think about why your dog is barking frequently and try to work out how you can change their routine or environment to improve their social etiquette skills.

Dog ownership is a rewarding experience on the whole but you do also need to play by the rules if you want to stay on the right side of the law.

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