Dogs and the Law


I just came across a site with resources about dog law and less than a week ago I adopted a dog, so this seems like a good time to highlight a few dog-related sites.

Dog Law is a product of Nolo (we can’t stop saying great things about that publisher!), Justia (a site with legal information by a company that does web design and legal marketing), and Little Sheba the Hug Pug (a dog associated with Justia). So far, it appears that Little Sheba hasn’t provided much content but — good news for readers! — Mary Randolph, the author of Nolo’s Every Dog’s Legal Guide, has. (You might have heard of the book as Dog Law, the title title of its first four editions.) The site addresses:

State and Local Regulation – covers information you need to know to own your dog within the law of your locality. This includes information about dog licenses, getting your dog vaccinated, leash laws, pooper-sooper laws and more…

Landlords and Dogs – covers what you need to know to have dog in your apartment, including negotiating a fair lease, dogs and elderly or disabled tenants, the enforceability of no pet clauses, landlord liability for illegal evictions, landlord liability for their tenants’ dogs and more…

Traveling With Your Dog covers dog travel, including airline travel, international travel, travel in the car, travel on public transportation (buses and trains) and more…

Barking Dogs covers dealing with neighbors, animal control and the police, as well as covering local and state laws and more…

Providing for Pets includes strategies for taking care of pets, why you can’t leave money to dogs (and what happens if you try) and more…

Dog Bites – includes information about dog bite prevention, dog owner liability, other potential liable parties, bringing a lawsuit, Dog-Bite Statutes and more…

Dangerous Dogs – includes information about – dangerous dog laws, criminal penalties for owners of dangerous dogs, and breed-specific restrictions.

One thing the site doesn’t appear to have much on (yet) is service animals (a topic someone asked me about yesterday). See Commonly Asked Questions about Service Animals in Places of Business (U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Disability Rights Section). Check to see if your own state has something similar. For instance, in my state the Washington State Human Rights Commission has Service Animal Questions. (By the way, the prosecutor’s office here has two service dogs who help with vulnerable witnesses, often children who have been the victims of sexual or physical abuse. See my post at Trial Ad Notes.)
Other resources:

  • Animal advocacy groups often include information about legal developments. For instance, the Humane Society of the United States has sections on federal legislation, state legislation, and its litigation.
  •, from the Internation Institute for Animal Law “provides access to legislation and legal matters pertaining to the rights and welfare of animals. supports information concerning animal cruelty, animal control, laboratory animal welfare, the use of animals in education, product testing and in the laboratory, animal control issues, and general animal welfare.”
  • The Animal Legal Defense Fund has a page of Do-It-Yourself Resources.

Since it’s that time of year, it doesn’t hurt to pass along the Humane Society’s cautions that puppies don’t always make good gifts. See How Much Is that Doggy in the Window?, Dec. 4, 2006. (Our new dog is our gift to ourselves — but we’ve adopted from the same rescue organization before and knew just what we were committing to.)

Happy holidays, and many tail wags to all!


  1. Kerry

    December 22, 2006 @ 8:15 am


    A wonderful edition to your dog information library is:
    Doggone Safe, Inc. is a non profit dedicated to dog bite prevention through education! Check it out and Happy Holidays!

  2. david giacalone

    December 22, 2006 @ 12:23 pm


    This is a great post, Mary. Another resource: Jeffrey Harlan Penneys has a weblog called Philadelphia Dog Bite Lawyer, that covers many topics of interest to dog bite victims and owners (and their lawyers) For example, the recent post Who Is Liable? (Nov. 18, 2006). Penneys also offers Dog Bite F&Qs at his law firm site.

    P.S.  Podcast enthusiasts should catch Nolo’s 12-minute What Does a Dog Owner Need to Know About the Law?, an interview with Mary Randolf. (transcript) I wish Nolo still sold its great Dog Law T-Shirt (which I gave to a couple friends many years ago).  Some librarian apparently donated on to an ALA Silent Auction in 2005. 

  3. Transcending Gender » Blawg Review Awards 2006

    December 25, 2006 @ 3:06 am


    […] David Giacalone won Best Law Blog in the Public Interest for shlep: the Self-Help Law ExPress. You can find a post there on pooches and the law. There’s also a pro se pothole report. […]

  4. kathypodgers

    February 18, 2007 @ 1:28 pm


    Nice post. I noticed you noticed the absence of good info re service dogs. This is a serious problem here in Cambridge, and in MA, as neither cambridge nor the State of MA has law that is compliant with the ADA on this issue.

    I wonder how self help can really work when a person with a disability, living on SSI, tries to complain about the Cambridge Police and Mayor when denied access based on being accompianied by a service dog?

  5. Types of dogs

    July 21, 2009 @ 2:05 pm


    Great post.

    It’s often difficult to find relevant info with regards to dogs and how the law applies.


Log in