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Dog’s Best Friend Law

by Lynn Lenart, Law Librarian on April 2, 2010

in Animal Law,Legal Resources,Lynn Lenart

Do I have to clean up after my dog when we go for walks?

My neighborâs dog barks all the time.  What can I do about it?

Am I allowed to own a pit bull?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Now that spring is here, people and pets want to get outside and enjoy the warmer weather.  Here are some laws to keep in mind when out and about with your dog.

Exceptions to the law

For each topic below I cite Ohio law, Summit County ordinances and Akron City ordinances. 

Here are some general exceptions listed in many of the animal control laws.

  • Many of the laws have exceptions for police dogs and human assistance, service or guide dogs. If your pet falls under one of these groups; go directly to the law to read about the exceptions. 
  • The laws do not necessarily apply to criminals committing or attempting to commit a criminal offense on the property or to the dog owner. 
  • People agitating the dog by teasing or tormenting are generally excluded from claiming damages if the dog bites.

Notice that the laws are directed at the humans who own the dogs.  They are the ones that are held responsible by the law.  The phrase âdog ownerâ is broad and includes the dog keeper or the person who harbors the dog.  Here is how âownerâ is defined by the Akron ordinance 92.25 â â Any person owning, keeping, possessing, harboring, maintaining, or having the care, custody, or control of an animal.â

Animal Control Laws

Ohio Revised Code (abbreviated below as R.C. #), Chapter 955: Dogs  

Summit County Ordinances, Summit Codified Ordinance 88-360, Chapter 505 Animal Control (abbreviated below as Summit Sec. #)

Akron City Ordinances, Title 9 General Provisions, Chapter 92 ANIMALS (abbreviated below as Akron #)

For those that live outside of Summit count, go here for other county ordinances and here for other city ordinances outside of Akron. 

 

Leash Laws – Are there âleash lawsâ in place if I live outside of Akron?

The state of Ohio requires dog owners to adequately confine or restrain their dog on the premises to prevent escape, or if off the premise, the dog owner must keep the dog under âreasonable control.â (R.C. 955.22)   If your dog has been classified as dangerous or vicious, the confining and restraining laws are even stricter and can include length and type of leash, muzzling, etc.   I write about dangerous and vicious dog classification below. 

Summit County requires the dog to be securely attached to a leash and under the continuous control of the owner.  Dogs are not permitted to snap at, menace, bite or attempt to bite people or animals. There are no excuses if your dog gets loose.  âLack of intent, knowledge or fault by the owner is not a defenseâ¦â  Penalties are minor misdemeanor for first offense and fourth degree misdemeanor for each subsequent offense.    (Summit Sec. 505.02)

Akron City ordinance also requires dogs to be on a leash when off their property.  (Akron 92.01)

Cleaning Sidewalks – Do I have to clean up after my dog when we go for walks?

Those who walk their dogs on public or private sidewalks anywhere in the county are responsible for cleaning up excrement and urine from the sidewalk.  I have no idea how you are suppose to clean up urine especially while walking a dog (bags come in handy for excrement, but urine!).  The penalty for not doing so is a minor misdemeanor.   (Summit Sec. 505.12)

Dog License – My dog is old and never goes off the property.  Do I still have to buy dog tags?

All dogs over three months old must be registered with the county (dog license, R.C. 955.01) and must wear dog tags at all times (R.C. 955.10, Summit Sec.  505.52, Akron 92.08)

Restrictions on Number of dogs – We live in Akron and have 4 dogs and my son wants to move back home with his dog.  Can he move home with his dog?

Within the city of Akron, there is a limit of 4 dogs (puppies are not counted).    Any grouping of more than 4 dogs over the age of 6 months is considered a âkennelâ and kennel regulations and fees apply.  (Akron 92.28)

Dog Barking and other nuisances – My neighborâs dog barks all the time.  What can I do about it?

County law prohibits frequent and habitual barking, howling, and other audible nuisance of such character, intensity or duration as to disturb the peace, quiet and good order of the County.  The list of nuisances also includes getting into garbage, destruction of property, offensive odors or unsanitary conditions.  Penalties range from minor misdemeanor to fourth degree misdemeanors.  (Summit Sec. 505.05)

The City of Akron defines unlawful barking as ten minutes of substantially uninterrupted dog barks, howls or yelps during the night between the hours of 8:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. or twenty minutes of barking during the day between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.  (Akron 92.14)

Enforcement?  Who do you call?  The Animal Warden or law enforcement officers are authorized to enforce the county ordinances in Chapter 505.  Call County Animal Control at 330-643-2845 or the Akron Animal Warden at 330-375-2320.  For a list of contacts for other municipalities go this web site . (Summit Sec. 505.54)

Dog bite and owners liability – My dog bit someone.  What should I do now?

The police and Animal Control will be involved.  Summit County law requires that a dog bite report be filed within 24 hours and that the dog be quarantined (Summit Sec.  505.13).  Summit County ordinances and Akron city ordinance holds the dog owner liable for the dogâs menacing behavior, any attempt to bite, actual bite or otherwise causes physical harm to a person or animal on or off the premises.   (Summit Sec.  505.02, 505.53; Akron 92.25)  

If your dog bites a person, watch out, there are laws that that must be followed by the dog owner.  You cannot remove the dog from the county in which the bite occurred.  You cannot destroy the dog until after the quarantine period, unless to humanely euthanize due to injury or disease.  (R.C. 955.261)  The dog may be declared a dangerous or vicious dog.  See the next section for related information.

There are a few defenses listed in the law so read the statutes carefully.  There have been several cases recently dealing with dog bites so it is best to consult an attorney if you are involved with a dog attack.

Dangerous Dogs v. Vicious Dogs – My dog is now labeled a vicious dog.  What does that mean?

Ohio R.C. 955.11, Summit County Sec. 505.21 and Akron 92.25 all define vicious dog.  State and county law distinguishes a vicious dog from a dangerous dog.

Dangerous dogs are those dogs that, âwithout provocation, has chased or approached in either a menacing fashion or with an apparent attitude of attack, or has attempted to bite or otherwise endanger any person.â  Notice that this classifcation does not even require a bite!

Vicious dogs are defined as dogs that âwithout provocation, have killed or caused injury to a person or have killed another dog.â

âWithout provocationâ means that the dog was not teased, tormented or abused by a person that caused the dog to attack.

After a dog is declared by the court as dangerous or vicious, extra restrictions apply.  Whenever off the premises, the leash must not be more than 6 feet long and the dog must be controlled by a person who is of suitable age.  If within the Akron city limits, the dog must also have a fluorescent green collar.   The owner must purchase liability insurance that provides coverage of not less than $100,000.  (R.C. 955.22 (E)) (Summit Sec. 505.26).  Additional laws apply for securely confining the dog on the ownerâs property.   Make sure to read the statutes for the complete list.

County law holds the owner of dangerous/vicious dogs responsible for any physical harm to people caused by the dog.  No excuses.  âLack of intentâ¦or the lack of knowledge of the violent propensities of the dog is not a defense to violating this section.â  (Summit Sec. 505.23).  Section 505.24 applies the same law to injuries suffered by an attack on a dog or a cat.

County, state and city law can order the dangerous/vicious dog destroyed, if in the courtâs judgment, the dog represents a continuing threat to people and other animals.  (R.C. 95.99, Summit Sec. 505.27, Akron 92.152).

Dog Breed Restrictions – Am I allowed to own a pit bull?

Yes.  You can own a pit bull but Ohio law declares all pit bull dogs as âvicious dogs.â All the restrictions concerning vicious dogs are automatically applicable to anyone owning this breed.  (R.C. 955.11(4)(a))  This includes purchasing the insurance and all state and local restrictions for vicious dogs.

Akron Ordinance 92.25 lists several requirements for those owning a Pit Bull, Canary Dog or American Bull Dog, or a dog that has been declared vicious.  A few of the restrictions for these dogs are that they must all wear a fluorescent green collar (purchased from the City), post a city issued warning sign on the premises, have the dog tattooed with a code number, and keep the dog muzzled and on a chain-link leash that is not more than 6 feet long whenever off the premise.  Owners of these dogs must also purchase liability insurance for their dogs.  See the ordinance for the complete list of restrictions.

Penalties – There are too many restrictions for my dog.  Whatâs the worst that can happen if my dog causes trouble?

Under state law the owner can be charged with a minor misdemeanor up to misdemeanor of the first degree.  Fines range from $25 up to $250 with jail time of up to 30 days.  Penalties for owners of dangerous/vicious dogs are tougher and range from first degree misdemeanor to fourth degree felony.

The dog may have to complete dog obedience training, or worse, the dog can be ordered by the Court to be humanely destroyed. (R.C. 955.99, Akron 92.99).

{ 2 comments }

NJ May 12, 2010 at 8:58 am

What should i do about the neighbors children coming on my property and teasing my dog and hitting it?

Brenda Browning June 16, 2010 at 4:45 pm

I would, first, TELL (don't ask) the children to stop what they're doing and to not do it again, maybe even explain that teasing a dog can make it mean and cause it to bite. I would then go to the parents of all children involved and inform them of what their child is doing. I would do this immediately after the first incident, because you may not get another chance.
I would then tell them that if it happens again, you will call the police and get them involved, possibly charging their child with animal abuse. I would be very firm about this, because if their child gets bit, YOU will surely be in trouble.

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