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leash laws

Some states have statewide dog leash laws. These laws are referred to as "running at large statutes." Many states do not have statewide leash laws, but counties, cities, towns, and municipalities have laws that determine when a dog must be leashed and not "running at large." These leash laws sometimes require dogs to be registered and wear an identification tag.

In Texas, there is no statewide leash law, commonly known as a 'running at large statute.' Instead, leash laws are determined by local ordinances. These local regulations vary by county, city, and town, and they dictate when and where a dog must be leashed to prevent them from 'running at large.' Many Texas municipalities require dog owners to keep their dogs on a leash in public areas, and some may have specific leash length requirements. Additionally, local ordinances may require dogs to be registered with the city or county and to wear identification tags displaying their registration. Dog owners in Texas should check with their local animal control or municipal government to understand the specific leash and registration requirements applicable to their area.


Texas Statutes & Rules

Texas Health and Safety Code, Section 822.013 - Dogs That Attack Persons or are a Danger to Persons
This statute is relevant as it outlines the responsibilities of dog owners to prevent their dogs from attacking people, which is closely related to leash laws and the concept of dogs running at large.

Under this section, a dog that makes an unprovoked attack on a person that causes bodily injury and occurs in a place other than an enclosed area that is designed to hold the dog can be seized by a local animal control authority. The owner may be liable for criminal penalties if the dog was not restrained at the time of the attack and the owner was previously made aware that the dog is dangerous.

Texas Health and Safety Code, Section 822.041(5) - Definitions
This definition is important as it provides the legal meaning of 'running at large,' which is essential for understanding leash laws in Texas.

In the context of Texas law, 'running at large' means a dog that is not under the control of its owner and not restrained by a leash or lead, and is beyond the premises of the owner or the person who has direct care, custody, or control of the dog.

Texas Health and Safety Code, Section 822.042 - Local Regulation of Dogs; Criminal Penalty; Civil Penalty
This statute allows local governments in Texas to regulate the control of dogs within their jurisdictions, which includes leash laws.

This section empowers counties and municipalities to adopt and enforce regulations regarding the control of dogs within their boundaries. This includes the authority to require dogs to be restrained at all times and to impose penalties on the owner of a dog that is at large. The statute also allows for a defense to prosecution if the dog is in an area that allows dogs to be off-leash, such as a designated dog park.

Texas Health and Safety Code, Section 822.047 - Local Regulation of Dangerous Dogs
This statute is relevant as it allows local governments to impose additional requirements on the owners of dangerous dogs, which may include stricter leash laws.

Local governments in Texas have the authority to place additional requirements on the owners of dangerous dogs, which may include but are not limited to, the use of a leash and muzzle when outside the owner's property. The statute also requires the owner of a dangerous dog to register the animal with the local animal control authority.

Federal Statutes & Rules

Animal Welfare Act (7 U.S.C. § 2131 et seq.)
While the Animal Welfare Act does not directly impose leash laws, it sets minimum standards for the treatment of animals which can influence state and local regulations regarding the humane treatment of pets, including dogs.

The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) was signed into law in 1966 and is the only federal law in the United States that regulates the treatment of animals in research, exhibition, transport, and by dealers. The law does not apply to all animals. For example, it does not cover rats, mice, or birds used in research. The AWA requires that minimum standards of care and treatment be provided for certain animals bred for commercial sale, used in research, transported commercially, or exhibited to the public. This includes licensing and registration of those who fall under the purview of the Act, as well as regular inspections by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). While the AWA does not mandate leash laws, compliance with the AWA can affect how states and localities formulate their own animal control laws, including leash requirements, to ensure humane treatment and the welfare of pets.

Americans with Disabilities Act (42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq.)
The Americans with Disabilities Act addresses the rights of individuals with disabilities to be accompanied by service animals, which may be exempt from local leash laws under certain conditions.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public. Title II and Title III of the ADA are especially relevant to service animals. They stipulate that service animals must be allowed to accompany people with disabilities in all areas where the public is allowed to go. According to the ADA, a service animal is defined as a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. The task(s) performed by the dog must be directly related to the person's disability. While service animals are generally required to be harnessed, leashed, or tethered, if these devices interfere with the service animal's work or the individual's disability prevents using these devices, the individual must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal, or other effective controls. This provision can override local leash laws, allowing service animals to be off-leash when necessary for their work.