There is no statewide leash law in Indiana. However, individual towns, cities, and counties have the authority to adopt their own leash laws. Many localities require pet owners to keep their dogs leashed in most outdoor settings, whether on private or public property. Exceptions include designated off-leash dog parks.
Research suggests that dog bite injuries are among the top 15 most common types of nonfatal injuries in the United States. That means dog bites outpace nonfatal injury rates from motorcycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and gunshots. Since the average annual cost of dog bite incidents is at least $400 million per year, it’s no wonder many states and localities adopt specific laws that apply to dog owners and handlers.
Commonly known as “leash laws,” these regulations define the unique responsibilities that dog owners have when controlling their pets in public. Leash laws are meant to encourage owners to take reasonable steps to prevent their dogs from biting or attacking others in public or private spaces.
When a dog bites or otherwise injures a person, Indiana law allows the injured party to hold the dog’s owner financially liable under certain circumstances. Questions surrounding dog owner liability in Indiana can be tricky, especially when local leash laws come into play. That’s why it’s best to work with a knowledgeable injury lawyer if someone else’s dog injured you.
At Truitt Law Offices, our seasoned Indiana dog bite attorneys are ready to help. We’re prepared to investigate the circumstances of the incident, file a claim on your behalf, and fight for the full compensation you deserve. Contact us today to discuss the details of your case in a free initial consultation.
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Does Fort Wayne Have a Leash Law?
Yes, Fort Wayne has its own citywide leash law. Under § 91.020 of the Fort Wayne Code of Ordinances (FWCO), anyone who owns or controls a dog within city limits:
- Must ensure the dog is properly restrained when secured by a leash or lead under their physical control
- Must ensure the dog is properly confined within the exterior boundaries of their home or real property
- May not tether the dog outdoors between 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.
- May not tether the dog outdoors for any period if the dog is unsterilized or less than six months old
- May not tether or confine a dog in or around an unoccupied outdoor structure unless an adult is continuously present to monitor the dog
- May not tether more than three dogs at the same time in the same location
- May not tether more than one dog in a manner that allows the dog to come in physical contact with other tethered dogs
- May not tether dogs within three feet of another person’s property or a public thoroughfare in which others have the right of way
Is There a Penalty For Not Having Your Dog On a Leash?
Since Indiana has no leash laws on the books, the state does not impose penalties for failing to leash one’s dog. However, many towns, cities, and counties have their own laws and their own penalties for violating them.
In Fort Wayne, a dog owner who allows their dog to roam free without proper restraints can face civil fines ranging from $50 to $2,500 under FWCO § 91.999. If the city determines that the dog is a public safety risk or a repeat public nuisance, local animal control authorities may seize the animal.
Local codes also state that the court may order dog owners who violate Fort Wayne leash laws to compensate victims who suffer injury or property damage from dog attacks. The law specifies that negligent dog owners may be liable for:
- Medical, veterinary, and/or pharmaceutical expenses
- The costs of replacing a domestic animal
- The costs of repairing or replacing damaged property
- Lost wages (when victims miss time at work)
- Counseling or therapy related to the dog attack incident
What If My Dog Bites Someone While On A Leash?
Under certain circumstances, you could still be liable if your dog bites someone while they are on a leash. Under § 15-20-1 of the Indiana Code, you can be held financially responsible for dog bite injuries if the three following conditions apply:
- You recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally failed to take reasonable steps to restrain your dog while it was on the leash
- Your dog entered another person’s property
- As a result of your failure to restrain your dog, the dog bit or attacked another person without provocation and caused them bodily injury
If your dog bites someone, you can also be charged with a Class A or B misdemeanor.
What If My Dog Has Never Bitten Anyone Before?
Indiana courts typically follow a so-called “one bite” rule, which holds that a dog’s owner should only be liable if they knew or should have known that their dog was likely to attack. Bite victims can satisfy this requirement by demonstrating that the dog bit someone else in the past or that the owner knew of the dog’s history of aggressive behavior.
Keep in mind that the one-bite rule does not apply to cases where a dog bites a government employee going about their official duties, such as a police officer or letter carrier. If your dog bites or attacks one of these protected individuals without provocation, you can be held strictly liable for injuries and related losses.
Contact the Dog Bite Lawyers in Ft. Wayne Today
If you were bit by a dog in Fort Wayne, IN, don’t hesitate to seek help from the experienced personal injury lawyers at Truitt Law Offices. Our attorneys are prepared to investigate the incident and seek fair compensation on your behalf. Contact us today to learn more about your legal options in a free initial case review.