Missouri municipalities are given express power to regulate dogs from running-at-large. Establishing rules for dogs that run-at-large help eliminate stray animals and prevent dog bite injuries. Some cities just prohibit dogs from running-at-large, while others establish so-called “leash laws” and licensing requirements.
In general, a dog is considered “at-large” if it is not on the owner’s premises and is not under the reasonable control of the owner, agent, or an immediate family member of the owner. A dog is considered to be “not under reasonable control” if it is off the owner’s premises and not under the control of the owner, agent, or family member. A dog is also considered to be “not under reasonable control” if it causes damage to a person or property—excluding the owner and his or her property, or in a situation where the dog is legitimately defending itself, its owner, or its owner’s family or property.
Types of Missouri Dog Laws to Control Running-At-Large
Cities in Missouri have established several different approaches to restrict dogs from running-at-large.
- Leash Laws. The leash law is the most restrictive effort to prevent dogs from running-at-large. It requires that all dogs must be contained on the owner’s premises unless the individual taking the dog off the premises has it controlled by a leash, cord, or chain. Generally, the dog must be confined to the owner’s premises by a fence or chain to reduce the risk of damages or the dog biting a child.
In some cities, such as Grandview, a dog can be on the premises of the owner without a leash or other confinement, providing that the owner is present and the dog has identification indicating the name of the owner and the address of his or her premises.
- Reasonable Control Restrictions. This restriction is one of the most lenient approaches to controlling dogs at-large. It merely requires that dogs be under the control of someone nearby, but does not require the use of a leash. This Missouri dog law prohibits dogs from running-at-large and restricts dogs from being “not under reasonable control.”
- Unlicensed Dog Restrictions. Some municipalities only restrict unlicensed dogs from running-at-large. This provision allows dogs to lawfully run-at-large as long as the owner has paid the municipal dog tax and the dog has been licensed.
- Seasonal Prohibition. A few municipalities in Missouri address the issue of dogs who have caused damages while running-at-large by requiring that the animal be confined for a certain period of time. For example, if a dog running-at-large damaged a garden and the incident was reported, the perpetrating dog may be required to stay confined for the summer to allow the dog owner and gardener to coexist peacefully.
- Female Dogs in Heat. Female dogs in heat are specifically prohibited from running-at-large in some municipalities, such as in Centralia, MO.
It is important to remember that these laws have been enacted to protect the citizens of the municipality and to prevent injury and unnecessary damages. Leash laws not only protect people, but also protect dogs from being injured by a car or other animal. It is always in the best interest of your pet and others for you to maintain control at all times.
For more information about Missouri leash laws and other Missouri dog laws, contact the Lieser Law Firm. If you or a loved one has been injured or suffered damages as a result of a dog running-at-large, contact our St. Louis Dog Bite Attorneys for a FREE case evaluation.