Owning a dog is a responsibility — but in addition to managing your personal obligations to your pet, you also have to make sure that you are following the law. In Arizona, there are dog-at-large charges that you need to be aware of. If you happen to be charged with having a dog at-large, it’s important that you know what legal options are available to you.

Definition of a dog-at-large

A dog is considered to be at-large if it is not leashed and it is not being supervised. For example, a dog is legally at-large if it escapes from your yard and is running around your neighborhood. Sometimes, when a person is in a public space such as a park or a school yard, a dog is at-large even if it is unleashed and being supervised. It is important for dog owners to be aware of when their dog needs to be leashed and when it is acceptable for them to be unleashed in a public space.

Things you need to know about Arizona dog laws

Dog owners in Arizona need to be aware of the various dog laws in the state, such as:

  • Dog-at-large laws — In Arizona, it is illegal for a dog to be at-large in public spaces, specifically parks and school property. Dog-at-large laws state that dog owners whose pets injure another person or damage property while at-large are responsible for the damage. It is important to note that there are statewide dog-at-large laws as well as municipal ordinances at the local level regarding at-large dogs.
  • Aggressive dog laws — Aggressive dog laws in the state of Arizona require that dog owners monitor and report the behavior of their pets. For example, if a dog bites a person or animal, the bite must be reported to county officials. In addition, the animal must be quarantined for a specific period of time. In addition, the dog owner may be held financially responsible for the injuries or treatment associated with the bite. Pet owners are expected to take measures to control their pet’s behavior and limit opportunities where a person or animal may be injured.

Arizona has a strict liability law in place for pet owners, and dog owners will be held responsible for any damages associated with a dog bite, regardless of a dog’s past history. It can be a difficult legal battle to fight, so it’s important that dog owners have the right lawyer on their side if their dog is involved in an incident while at-large.

How to prevent your dog from coming unleashed

The best way to avoid a dog-at-large charge in Arizona is to prevent your dog from becoming unleashed. Here’s a few tips that can help you protect yourself, your pet and others:

  • Routinely check your yard to verify that all fencing is in place and that there are no gaps. Sometimes, a dog will dig a hole that you are not aware of, and they can easily escape your yard. Repair any damages to your fence or property line so that your dog cannot escape.
  • Always put your dog on a leash when you go for a walk or head to a public space. It’s a good idea to keep a leash in your car so that you have a back-up in the event that your current leash breaks.
  • Invest in pet training. Teach your dog commands so that it obeys you, and work to socialize your pet so that it’s friendly around other people and animals.

What to do if you are facing a dog-at-large charge

If you have been charged with having a dog at-large, you will want to work with a dedicated defense attorney who will advocate for both you and your pet. These defense cases have to be carefully considered, and it’s necessary for you to have an attorney on your side who understands Arizona dog laws.

At some point, your dog is likely going to be at large within your neighborhood. Unfortunately, a short amount of time out of your fenced yard or a quick dash off the leash can have unintended consequences. If your dog has gotten into trouble after getting out of your home, your hard or its leash, then it may be time to contact an experienced Phoenix attorney who can help. For more information on the best way to deal with dog at large charges in Arizona, contact us today.