What Does a Dog Owner Needs to Know About the Law?

What Does a Dog Owner Needs to Know About the Law?

Some essential informations that dog owners must know about the law were presented in the interview with Mary Randolph, author of Every Dog’s Legal Guide (Nolo). The discussion covered the licensing laws, a few animal control rules, “no pets” clause in a lease, airline transportation of dogs and animal cruelty. What to do in case the dog might outlive the owner was also discussed.

According to the author, the theory behind licensing a dog is for the city to keep track of their dog population. The fee that the dog owners pay when they get license for their dogs go towards the costs that the city incurs in managing their dog population which include employing animal control officers. They also use licenses to keep track of rabies vaccinations. The owners who got license for their dog are more likely to get their dog back quickly and safely in case it got picked-up by the animal control officers because of its identifying tag, which makes licensing of dogs beneficial to owners as well.

For public safety, the animal control officers are free to track down and lock up dogs that are running loose. On the other hand they cannot impound dogs that are inside their owner’s house.

Landlords are free to decide if they want to enforce a ‘no pets’ clause in the lease. But if the landlord allowed the tenant to have their dog inspite of the ‘no pets’ clause, the landlords cannot suddenly decide to enforce the said clause. The courts know that landlords use the said clause to get rid of someone for another reason and they don’t allow them to suddenly enforce that clause after waving it for several years.

On the issue of airline transportation of dogs, the author stated that, federal laws limit airline’s liability on dog transportation and dogs are treated just like baggage for the purposes of that limit. It is adviced for the owners to pay close attention to the conditions of the flight and be aware that there is not much financial compensation that they can get from the airline in case something went wrong.

Most of the time the owners are unaware of their dogs’ barking problem and how it disturbs their neighbours. It is recommended for owners to communicate with their neighbours that they would like to know if their dog is causing problem so that they can take care of it. In case of the people who are being disturbed by a barking dog, the author offered the following tips: first they must enlist the help of other neighbours who are also being bothered and approach the owner cordially, if it doesn’t work, they can ask the help of animal control officers to speak to the owner and the last resort is to call the police, given that it is a continuing problem that just cannot be solved.

Animal cruelty and neglect is a crime that is punishable by fines or by jail. If someone witnessed an animal abuse he/she can take action by calling the animal control authorities of their town.

For the older people who are concerned about what would happen if their pets outlived them, according to the author, the most important thing that they can do is to find someone trustworthy who is willing to take the animal. They must make arrangements ahead of time and it is thoughtful to leave some money for the dog’s care. Another option is to make a legal arrangement under which the owner makes a trust for the dog. In the author’s opinion, the first option is better than the use of legal mechanism to make sure that the owner’s wishes are carried out.


Randolph, M. (n.d.).What Does A Dog Owner Need to Know About the Law? Podcast retrieved from http://www.nolocast.com/wp-podcasts/30_What_Does_A_Dog_Owner_ Need_To_Know_About_the_Law.mp3

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