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An Overview of California Leash Law

Dogs have earned their reputation as “man’s best friend.” According to data cited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), 4 in 10 households in California have a dog. Not only are they incredibly popular pets in Los Angeles, but dogs become true members of the family for so many people. At the same time, dogs can be dangerous. 

Dog owners should comply with leash laws and take other precautions to ensure that the public is protected from risks imposed by their animals. In this article, our Los Angeles dog bite attorney provides an overview of California’s leash law as well as the key things to know about the personal injury claims process. 

Leashing is Largely a Municipal Matter (No Statewide Leash Mandate for Dogs) 

As a starting point, it is important to clarify that California does not have a statewide leash mandate for dogs. In other words, there is no state law that requires dog owners to leash their animals when in a public place. However, that certainly does not mean that dogs are permitted to run free in California. Quite the contrary, most households in the state live in an area with a local leash law. 

Dog leashing is considered to be primarily a municipal issue in California—meaning the relevant leash law likely comes from your city government and/or county government. As an example, there is a leash ordinance for dogs in Los Angeles County. The L.A. County code (Chapter 10.32.010) requires dog owners to leash their animals when off of their own property. The current fines for violations are as follows: 

  • $100 fine for the first offense; 
  • $250 fine for the second offense; and 
  • $500 fine for the third offense. 

State Law: Dog Owners Face Strict Liable for a Bite

While there is not a statewide leash law in California, state law will control a dog bite injury case.  A dog owner is legally responsible for their animal—regardless of whether or not there is a local leash law in place. Under California law (California Civil Code Section § 3342), a dog owner can be held strictly liable if their animal bites another person. They can be held liable for medical bills regardless of whether or not they were “at fault.” 

Further, California law allows injured victims to pursue a dog bite injury claim on the basis of negligence. If a dog bite injury happens because of an owner’s negligence—such as their failure to keep a dangerous dog on a leash—they can be held liable for additional damages, including the pain and suffering and emotional distress suffered by the victim. 

Set Up a Free Consultation With a Los Angeles Dog Bite Injury Attorney

At El Dabe Ritter Trial Lawyers, our Los Angeles dog bite lawyers have a deep understanding of state and local leash laws in California. If you or your family member was hurt by a leashed or unleashed dog, we are available to help. Call us now at 213-985-1120 or connect with us online for a free, no-obligation initial case review. Our personal injury attorneys handle dog bite claims in Los Angeles County, Orange County, Ventura County, Riverside, and communities throughout Southern California.