Why Leash Laws Matter, Even If Your Dog is "Really Friendly"

Date: April 9, 2018
Lifestyle Health + Wellness

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Is it just me or does it seem leash laws are being taken more as suggestions rather than as laws by many dog owners as of late? Perhaps the epidemic is primarily taking place in the Charlotte region, although I highly doubt it. 

It seems every time I take Isabella and Penelope out and about these days, we see or encounter at least one dog off leash. And I’m here to write that it’s not okay. Leash laws were created to keep both animals and people safe, and it’s high time we get back to following them.

What is a ‘Leash Law’?

Leash laws vary by state; you can check leash laws in your area by visiting your city’s website. 

isabella-and-penelope-leash-laws-4.pngIn Charlotte, NC, leash laws state “ALL dog owners that take their dogs for walks in their neighborhood and/or in public parks (not designated as a dog park) are required to keep their dogs on a leash and under physical restraint at ALL TIMES. Please note that having the leash in your possession and not attached to the dog is not considered having the dog on a leash and you will still be subject to a fine.”

Further, “An animal may be loose in its own yard if there is an adult immediately next to the animal and the animal responds to direct verbal commands of the person.”

Any violations to the leash law in Charlotte result in fines ranging from $50 to $500 citations, and permanent seizure of the animal will happen for the fifth violation. Not to mention, if your unleashed dog injures a person or another animal, he could be confiscated and put down.

Do I have your attention now? Good.

Dear Negligent Dog Owners, Your “Friendly” Dog is Putting Everyone at Risk

Now, maybe this topic wouldn’t grind my gears so much if Isabella hadn’t been attacked by dogs off leash more times than I can count on my two hands,  but unfortunately, that’s not the case. So many dog owners walk with their dog off leash or let their dog out in their unfenced yard off leash because their dog is  “really well behaved.” 

I’d be rich if I had a nickel for every time a dog owner said, “Oh, it’s okay, he’s friendly,” or “Oh, sorry, he just wants to play,” after their dog came bounding up while I’m walking my dogs.

Unfortunately, Isabella is no longer friendly with other dogs while she is on leash due to the number of times she’s been attacked by unleashed “friendly” dogs. So when dogs off leash come running up to her, I’m caught in a predicament. 

isabella-and-penelope-leash-laws-2.JPGDo I let her defend herself, which could result in her and/or the other dog and/or Penelope (the innocent bystander) get injured in a fight? Or do I scoop up my 45-pound lab mix to restrain her and hope the unleashed dog will be friendly to Penny while the dog’s owner casually strolls up to my struggle saying, “It’s okay, he’s friendly?”

I’m not alone in my struggle. In a 2016 study, 43 percent of dog owners announced their dogs suffer from leash aggression. A primary cause of leash aggression in dogs is the feeling of being cornered or threatened by unrestrained dogs.

It’s high time dog owners begin following leash laws before the worst happens. Dear negligent dog owner, you are not above the law. Leash laws apply to all dogs… even your friendly one.

What Happens If an Injury Occurs with a Dog Off Leash?

Like many law-abiding dog owners, I’ve recently found myself having the same uncomfortable conversation with owners of unleashed dogs as I struggle to keep their dog away and my pups safe. “If you do not put your dog on a leash and follow the law, I will get the police involved.”

If your dog is off leash and gets in an inevitable fight with my dogs who are on a leash because Isabella feels the need to defend herself, it will be you and your dog facing the consequences because you chose not to follow the law. Yes, even if your “friendly” dog did not start the altercation.

If your dog is off leash and injures a person or other animal, that person may be entitled to compensation and you could lose your dog. And it wouldn’t be your dog’s fault. Or that person’s dog fault. It would be your fault. 

In my opinion, The Dogster says it best: “Leash. Your. Dog. It is the law, and for very good reasons.”

What are Your Opinions on Leash Laws?

I want to hear from YOU. What do you think of leash laws? Has your dog had bad encounters with other dogs off leash? What are you doing to work with your dog’s leash aggression?

Leave a comment below.