Dog Courtesy & Safety

Dog ownership is a vibrant part of urban living. Dogs are seemingly everywhere on the Hill as many folks in our community keep them. People walking their companions are common in just about every corner of our neighborhood. Most folks use leashes, while others do not. Many folks clean up after their animals, though some leave their animal’s waste. How should you walk and keep your dog on the Hill?

State & Local Leash Laws

State law does not specifically require owners to leash their dogs.  However, Missouri statute does require dog owners to control their animals, demanding owners reasonably restrain their dogs so that the animal does not injure itself, a person or another animal. 

In the absence of specific state statute, many municipalities – including the City of St. Louis – have passed ordinances prohibiting dogs from freely wandering on public streets, spaces, parks and in neighbors’ yards.  For instance, dogs in the City must be leashed and securely held whenever off the owner’s property.  Hill residents cannot simply walk along a sidewalk or street with their dogs.  Dogs must be leased and securely under the control of their guardian while walking on the Hill.

City ordinance also directs how residents may tether their dogs in their yard.  Local law states that no animal may be tethered outdoors for more than 10 continuous hours for a total of 12 hours during any 24 hour period.  The tether must be proportionate to the animal, at least 15 feet in length, featuring a swivel on both ends and attached to the pet via a properly fitting harness or collar.  

Dogs kept outside must have access to suitable, edible and sufficient food as well as clean and potable water.  The dog’s guardian must also provide appropriate shelter for the elements that then exist.

Cleaning up after your pets

The call of nature inevitably happens during a walk.  You are responsible for removing and disposing of any feces left by your dog.  The responsibility exists whether your pet relieved itself on a private lawn, in a public park or other public property.

Responsibility for Dog Bites

Certain other legal responsibilities also come with dog ownership.  Dog owners must take reasonable care to ensure that others in the community are not injured by their animals.  In some cases, dog owners may also be strictly liable for damages resulting from a dog bite.  In both situations, the dog owner will be liable for damages caused by the dog, whether the bite occurs on public or private property. These damages include both physical injuries as well as economic losses.  

Previous bad behavior is not a prerequisite to legal liability.  A dog owner is responsible for damages regardless of whether the dog showed any signs of viciousness before an attack. As such, a dog owner cannot escape liability by claiming that the dog had never acted out before the incident.  However, the dog owner is not liable for injuries that happen when someone is trespassing.

The City’s Animal Care & Control Division is responsible for ensuring the health and safety of City residents and their animals and the enforcement of pet-related ordinances.  Please call 314.657.1500 should you have any questions or concerns about pet safety, responsible pet ownership or the enforcement of City ordinances.  During weekends or after regular business hours, call 314.231.1212.