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City of Houston Dog Laws

The City of Houston Municipal Code contains ordinances regarding animal ownership in Houston. Chapter 6 of the Code of Ordinances contains seven articles that address different aspects of ownership such as animals at large, care of animals, livestock, disease control, and enforcement. Several of the chapters address dog owner responsibilities.

Section 6.3 – Animals at Large and Impoundment

Section 6.3 states, “An owner or any other person having the right of possession of an animal shall ensure that the animal does not run at large in violation of this chapter and shall be subject to punishment under this chapter without regard to whether the person was acting with a culpable mental state.” “Running at large” is defined in the code as “an animal that is allowed to go on public or private property without its owner or a person having direct physical control over the animal.” In other words, a dog owner is breaking the law if he or she allows the dog to leave his or her property without a leash or some form of direct physical control. The owner is in violation of the law even if the dog escapes on accident.

The Code makes an exception for a dog owner that has the dog off-leash at a designated off-leash dog recreation area or park. However, the dog owner cannot leave the dog unattended at the dog park. The dog must remain under the supervision and command of the owner or handler.

Section 6.7 Care, Keep and Use of Animals

Houston requires owners to provide basic care for their animals. They must keep animals in clean and sanitary enclosures. Animals must be fed “good, wholesome food” and clean water. Dogs may not be tied to a tether that is less than ten feet in length. Owners must also provide “sufficient and appropriate exercise.”

Section 6.17 Rabies Control

If a dog bites or scratches a person, the animal will be quarantined for ten days and examined by a veterinarian for rabies. If the owner refuses to quarantine the animal and have it examined by a veterinarian, the owner will receive a fine between $100 and $2,000.

Section 6.24 Dog and Cat Feces

Houston requires any person in control of a dog or cat to promptly remove and dispose of feces that are left by the animal. Not having materials to remove feces is not a valid excuse under the law. This law does not apply to feces left in the owner’s own yard. A person may receive a fine between $75 and $500 for violating this law.

Section 6.25 Assuming Responsibility For Stray

If a person encourages a stray dog to visit his or her home, that person may be treated as the owner of the dog under Houston’s laws. If a person provides food and water or other care to the dog on his property or premises for longer than three days, the person is considered the owner of the animal.

If you would like to review the language of Chapter 6, click on the following link:

If you have been injured as a result of a dog bite or attack, contact The O’Hara Law Firm for a free consultation. Patrick O’Hara is a dog bite attorney that handles personal injury cases in Harris County and surrounding counties. The O’Hara Law Firm represents clients on a contingency fee basis. Call us at 832-956-1138.

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