Illinois Dog Leash Law

When walking a dog outside of your premises, it becomes your duty to keep the public safe from any dog-related incidents. One aspect of being a responsible dog owner means abiding by your state’s leash laws. Laws are in place to keep the public safe, including laws surrounding what limitations pet owners must obey.

Although it might seem like a freeing experience for the animal, letting improperly trained animals go leash-less increases their chance of being injured by a vehicle. Leash laws in particular prevent animals from roaming free and injuring other animals, humans, and even themselves. If you or a loved one was injured by an unleashed dog, our Chicago injury attorneys can help. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with our top-rated team.

What Are Leash Laws?

Leash laws dictate the circumstances in which a pet owner must keep their animal leashed. These laws often include designated off-leash areas where pet owners can safely unleash their pets.

Chicago Leash Laws

Chicago Municipal Code dictates all animal control laws, asserting that owners must keep their animals leashed when outside of the owner’s premises. Leash laws refer not only to leashes, but to other modes of containment as well. According to its Animal Control Act, Chicago requires all animal owners to contain their pets in some form – leash, crate, car, etc – while they are in public.

Animals can roam free on private property, including front yards. However, the Animal Control Act does require pet owners to secure their perimeter in a way that prevents their animal from leaving the premises. This means that in open front yards, animals must still be contained in some way. The owner must invest in some form of perimeter security, like fencing.

Leash Laws at Dog Parks

All Chicago District parks exercise strict leashing laws. However, the city does specify certain locations as dog-friendly areas, like Grant Bark Park, D’Angelo Dog Park, and Lake Shore East Dog Park. These areas allow owners to unleash their animals, but only if they possess the proper permit and tag that designates your pet as an off-leash animal. Though this does come with some hassle in retrieving the permit, they only cost $5. Certain Chicago beaches also provide dog-friendly areas, accommodating those that wish to share the beach experience with their furry friend.

Risks Associated With Off-Leash Dogs

Leash laws are in place for safety reasons. Though they may seem like a hindrance, many pet owners don’t realize that unleashing their pets could cause harm to their pet. Dog owners might not realize that it takes a significant level of training for an animal to learn obedience in a way that prevents them from becoming distracted by the many events that take place in the public at once. Unleashing a pet in an undesignated area can result in several cases:

  • Pets could run away and get lost.
  • Cars could hit pets that run into the road.
  • Pets, especially puppies, could contract infection.
  • Without collars, pets could be mistaken as strays and stolen and/or taken to animal control.
  • Pets that don’t get along well with other animals could either injure or become injured by other pets, or wild animals.

Though leash laws do protect humans, they also protect pets just as much.

Leash Law Penalties

Leash law penalties apply to all owners that break the law. Even if their actions did not cause any accidents or injuries, leash law penalties apply. Violating Chicago’s leash laws comes with the following penalties:

  • A minimum fine of $300
  • A fine between $300 and $1,000, and the responsibility for repair, if the animal damages property
  • A fine between $300 and $10,000 when the animal bites or attacks another person, with the potential for owner jail time or community service

Chicago’s leash laws are strict, but they protect humans and animals alike when owners adhere to the law. Despite its seemingly rigid stature, the city’s leash laws provide owners with safe places where they know their pets won’t get injured while they run around uncontained.