State and Local Regulation

The State and Local Regulation section looks at the basic areas of government regulation that affect most dog owners, including:

How Many Dogs Can You Keep?
Leash Laws
Off-Limits Areas
Impounding and Destroying Dogs
Lost and Found Dogs
Spay and Neuter Requirements
Pooper-Scooper Laws
Dogs in Vehicles
Animal Burial Restrictions

Special rules for assistance dogs. Many local laws don't apply to assistance dogs trained to help disabled owners.

Barking dogs. Local and state laws may specifically require owners to keep barking dogs from being a nuisance (See Barking Dogs).


Local governments are still in charge of most kinds of basic animal regulations, including limits on the number of dogs per household, license and vaccination requirements, and leash laws. Laws covering these issues tend to be broadly similar everywhere, but their details vary significantly from town to town.

To find out what the law is where you live, you must do some research. That may be as simple as calling the local Animal Control or Health Department and asking your question.

If you want to read the law yourself - always a good idea - you can probably find it in the city or county ordinances, which are often called the "municipal code." The code should be available at your local public library, the law library in the county courthouse, and at city hall, usually in the city clerk's or city attorney's office.

In most towns, even large ones, local ordinances are kept in a big loose-leaf binder. You can probably find what you need simply by looking in the index under "Dogs" or "Animals." You can often find local ordinances online as well. (For more information, see Appendix 1, Legal Research.)

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