I moved back to California with my dog Betty last year after living in other states for the the last fifteen years or so. I wanted to familiarize myself with the local laws as a responsible pet owner. Many laws have changed since I lived here before. I want to share some of what I have learned with you to keep all of our pets safer. I will be sharing them over the next few weeks.
First up -Leash law. This is such a source of debate among dog owners. Most owners know that it is a good idea for most dogs - other people's dogs in particular. Nobody wants a strange dog running up to them or their pets. The news is full of sad stories depicting tragic accidents and horrific injuries because an unleashed pet got loose and the result is often devastating. Many people think it is ok to allow THEIR pet to roam free because they believe that it is justified if the area is remote, uncrowded, or their dog is just too good to worry about. I have heard the reasons. We were the only ones around (until they weren't). My dog is friendly (until they are attacked). My dog has a solid recall. My dog is too old for a leash. My dog is too young for a leash. I do it all the time - it is fine. I have even had dog walking clients expect me to walk their dogs off-leash in Los Angeles because they do it all the time.
Here is the problem. The law is clear:
"No person owning or having possession, charge, custody, or control of any animal, except cats which are not in heat or season, shall cause, permit, or allow the animal to stray, run, or in any manner to be at large in or upon any public street, sidewalk or park, except as otherwise expressly provided in section 63.44 of this Code, or in the bed of the Los Angeles River or upon any unenclosed lot or land."
Enclosed private property or public dog parks (if you dare) are the ONLY legal places to let your dog off leash. Having an Emotional Support Animal is not an exception. There are some exceptions made for true service dogs that MUST be off leash to perform their tasks such as police K9 animals. There is a lot of confusion over the difference between an Emotional Support Animal and a Service Dog. This will be covered in an upcoming article soon.
The entire code relating to pets can be found here. Be informed and be safe out there.