Dog owners and sitters can be a wacky and wild bunch, but we don’t hesitate to follow the law where our pets are concerned. Fortunately, New York City’s dog laws are simple to understand and geared toward safety for both people and pets.
1. Every dog needs a license
When out in public, a dog must display its license tag with an expiration sticker on its collar. Licenses can be obtained through the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene—online, by mail, or at a DOHMH event. Fees are $8.50 for spayed/neutered dogs, or $34.00 for dogs that aren’t spayed or neutered. Licensing can help lost dogs reunite with their owners, can facilitate containment of rabies and other diseases, and helps enforce spay/neuter laws.
2. Rabies vaccinations are mandatory
All dogs must receive a rabies vaccine by four months of age, with periodic boosters after that. Check with your veterinarian for appropriate scheduling for your pet. Proof of the rabies vaccine is often required by groomers, playgroups, and dog runs as well.
3. Dogs must be kept on a leash no more than six feet long
Ignoring the leash law can result in hefty fines, and it’s not just the Parks Department that can nab you: NYC’s Departments of Health and Sanitation are also empowered to enforce the leash law. If your dog insists on running free with the wind in his fur, a number of city parks have off-leash hours between 9pm and 9am. Visit NYC Parks to search participating parks by borough. And of course, dogs are permitted off-leash in designated dog runs with a current license and rabies vaccine.
4. Don’t tether your dog
In 2011, the New York City Council passed a tethering bill outlawing tying or chaining a dog for more than three hours in a 12-hour period. The bill also prohibits any tethering using heavy chains, or choke or pinch collars. According to the City Council, dogs tethered inhumanely are more likely to become aggressive and to bite; the tethering law aims to prevent both animal abuse and harm to humans.
5. Scoop that poop!
Always a vanguard, New York was the first major city to enact a canine waste law. Dog walkers are required to pick up after their pets, or be fined to the tune of $250. May we recommend our favorite poop bags
Top photo via Flickr/Charley Lhassa