Basic dog laws to know before
taking FIDO out in public!

As the weather gets warmer, more folks will be taking their dogs into crowded public places. It's important to remember some basic laws before embarking on an adventure with your canine companion!

First of all, every dog over the age of four months is required to have a current license (and wear it at all times) in San Diego. This is important to mention, as lots of people move from other states where licensing is NOT a requirement. So, if you're new to San Diego, or you've just never had a dog before, remember you have to get a license from the Department of Animal Control. (Cats, by the way, are not required to have a license.)

In order to get a license, your dog must have a current rabies vaccination. Not only is it legally necessary to vaccinate your dog against rabies, but it's something any smart pet owner should do, anyway! People who get caught with out a current dog license or rabies vaccination face stiff penalties!

On a side note, if you find a licensed dog with a tag, you can access the owner information 24 hours per day via phone or website, and the dog will never have to wind up in a shelter!

Next, you need to remember any person owning or having custody or control of a dog must at all times prevent the dog from attacking, biting, or injuring any person engaged in a lawful act. Unfortunately, strangers and children running up to grab your dog without permission is not only a lawful act....but a common (albeit thoughtless) occurrence. One good rule of thumb would be to ask ALL children to stay away from your dog, then you don't have to worry about your dog biting or nipping. Or, consider purchasing a mesh muzzle for your dog while they're in crowded public places. Dogs hate it at first, but sometimes it's better to be safe than sorry.

Hand held leashes are required in public places, and must be no longer than 6 feet, by law. Many of the extendable leashes are longer than the 6 foot limitation, so it's important to remember that.

One of the greatest things about living in San Diego, however, is the abundance of LEGAL off-leash dog parks, and even two off-leash dog beaches (although sadly, one of the two beaches restricts off-leash activity during the summer months when we San Diegans most want to be outdoors with our dogs!)

Whenever you're traveling to or from a destination with your pet, safely enclose or protect him/her with a harness or other device that will prevent the animal from falling, being thrown or jumping from the vehicle. In other words, just tying your dog in the back of your truck with a regular leash isn't going to do the trick!

Additionally, it is a public offense for any person to leave an animal in an unattended vehicle without adequate ventilation or in a manner that subjects the pet to extreme temperatures that adversely affect the animal's health or welfare. Again, this is another of those areas where it's better to be safe than sorry. Just don't leave your pet unattended in your vehicle in warm weather....and if you see a pet in a the police!

Dogs can't dial the police themselves when they are locked in a warm vehicle, or not sufficiently protected in the back of a truck (their little paws just can't hit the numbers). This is where being nosey can really make a difference in an innocent animal's life! If you see a pet locked in a car on a warm day, or see someone driving around with a dog in the back of their truck without adequate protection....PLEASE CALL AUTHORITIES! It's ALWAYS better to be safe, than sorry. Any owner who truly cares about their dog would appreciate the concern for their animal. This goes for any situation where you think a dog is being neglected or mistreated.