Do I need to keep my dog on a leash?
In Pennsylvania, people who own a dog are required to keep their dog under control at all times - but not necessarily on a leash when walking the dog away from your property.
According to section 459-305 of PA laws:
It shall be unlawful for the owner or keeper of any dog to fail to keep at all times such dog either:
(1) confined within the premises of the owner;
(2) firmly secured by means of a collar and chain or other devise so that it cannot stray beyond the premises on which it is secured; or,
(3) under the reasonable control of some person, or when engaged in lawful hunting, exhibition or field training.
So what does this mean?
If you are at home on your property, you must either have your dog "confined" (say, by a fence) or "firmly secured" by use of a collar and chain or other device.
If you are away from your property - say, walking your dog in a public park -- you must have your dog "under reasonable control." While a leash is an excellent way to keep a dog "under reasonable control, "note that Pennsylvania does not mention "leash" and thus does not require the use of a leash.
Of course, be sure to consult the laws of your municipality which may impose different obligations on dog owners.
Owners are responsible for dog bites
While Pennsylvania does not require a dog owner to keep its dog on a leash (when away from their property), the State does make owners responsible for the injuries caused by the dog. Thus, many dog owners keep their dogs on leashes to avoid situations where their dog injures another person. We recommend that you keep your dog on a leash when away from your property.
Owners of dangerous dogs
Owners of "dangerous dogs" are held to an even higher standard of conduct and face even more serious consequences.
A dangerous dog is one that is known to have caused injury. Owners of dangerous dogs are subject to the following requirements:
•• The owner must register the dog as dangerous.
•• The owner must have a proper enclose for the dog and clearly post a sign that they have a dangerous dog.
•• When outside of that enclosure or the house, the dog must be muzzled and secured with an adequately strong chain or leash.
•• When certain events occur (for example, the dog has escaped, has attacked a person or another dog, has died, or been sold or given away), the owner must notify the State.
Severe Penalties for Owners of Dangerous Dogs Who Cause Injury or Death
In the event that the dangerous dog attacks a person or another domestic animal - because of the intentional, reckless, or negligent conduct of its owner - the owner could be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, and face up to two years in prison.
Even worse, in the event that the dangerous dog aggressively attacks a person and causes severe injury or death of a person - again, because of the intentional, reckless, or negligent conduct of its owner - the owner could be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, and face up to five years in prison.
If you have been bitted by a dog
The law firm of Hal Waldman and Associates hopes that you and your loved ones are never the victim of a dog bite. We have been helping people injured by dogs for more than 30 years. Call us at 412-567-4665 for a quick consultation so that we can quickly help you determine if you would benefit from legal counsel. The call is free and puts you under no obligation. We want to help you!