Running at Large

It’s against the law to allow your dog to run at large. People are often confused by exactly what the law does – and doesn’t – allow owners to do.

A “Dog at large” is defined as a dog that is off or outside of the premises of its owner; not restrained by a rope, leash, chain, or other similar means; or not under the immediate control, restraint, or command of its owner or keeper. If a dog is not restrained by a leash or tether of some kind, is not at heel, or not a working dog in the field, the dog is considered to be “at large.” Dogs are permitted to run inside an approved off-leash park. Here is a map of off-leash parks in and close to Washington County.

We enforce this law seriously. Last year, we responded to about 1200 dogs-at-large complaints.

We encourage neighbors to settle these problems amicably when possible. Often, you’ll find out that you can resolve the problem without the legal process. For example, your neighbor might not know that the dog is running through the neighborhood while the family is off to work. Explaining the problem to the dog’s owner usually solves the problem. If after speaking with the owner the problem continues, call us. Animal Services will dispatch an officer to discuss the problem with the dog owner. Any dog found running at large may be impounded. If impounded, redemption fees and fines will be charged.

Sometimes, we’ll suggest that you file a formal complaint against the dog’s owner. Animal Services can help you file this complaint, known as a civil infraction.