Responsible Dog Ownership

Posted by Scott Edwards | May 24, 2019 | 0 Comments

Jimmy the German Shorthair Pointer and Allie the youngest daughter of Schauermann Thayer attorney Scott Edwards moments before being disturbed for breakfast

My family recently added a new member to our family. Jimmy came to us when he was almost six months old and has almost literally turned our world upside down. Being first time dog owners, we didn't really know what rules and laws applied to him and to us. We guessed many dog owners were equally unsure of their legal rights and responsibilities. Since I was going to do the research anyway, I thought I'd share with any who might be interested. Though these rules govern the conduct of dog owners, they are also important for all of us to understand

Dog LicensesClark County requires that all animals be licensed. Failure to license a pet exposes the owner to a $100 fine.  Multnomah County also requires dog licensing. Proof of a rabies vaccine is required to license your pet.

Leash Laws – Dogs may be on leash at any public park or trail in Clark County (except Klineline Pond and Vancouver Lake beach area) and Multnomah County. Dogs may not be off leash except on their owner's property or while in a designated off-leash dog park. People who do not obey the leash laws may be fined.

Scoop Laws – Dog owners must pick up and dispose of their dog's feces at any public park, natural area, or trail, including the off-leash dog parks. People who do not obey the scoop laws may be fined.

Dog Bites – Washington is a “first bite” state. That means that the owner of any dog that bites any person that is on public property or lawfully on private property is liable for all the damages caused—regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the dog's owner's knowledge of such viciousness. Oregon is a little different. Oregon is a “free bite” state. This means that in Oregon, an owner will only be held liable for injury caused by a dog bite if the owner knows or had reason to know the dog might act aggressively before the bite occurred.

Provocation – An exception to the dog bite liability above is “provocation.” If the owner is able to show that the person bitten provoked the dog and that such provocation led to the bite, the owner is not liable.

Abandoned Dogs – Fifteen days after a lost or stray dog is rescued, it is defined as an “abandoned dog” and the dog may be taken to the Humane Society or to a kennel and sold as if it had no other owner.

Pet Stealing/Selling – A person who steals and/or sells another person's dog is subject to additional charges and fines/penalties—beyond simple theft and conversion.

There is more to responsible dog ownership than simply feeding and watering your pet. It's important to be aware of your responsibilities. The laws set forth above, are just as applicable to pet owners as are speed and direction rules are to vehicle owners. Protect yourself—and all of those members in our community. License your dog. Keep him or her on a leash. Clean up poop. Protect other people from bites by properly training and restraining your pet. 

About the Author

Scott Edwards

Scott Edwards is a partner at Schauermann Thayer Jacobs Staples & Edwards law firm. Scott is licensed in both Oregon and Washington, and has been practicing law since 2008. Though Scott started his career working for insurance companies, he now focuses his practice on personal injury, auto accident, biking accident, and insurance cases. In his free time, Scott enjoys spending time pedaling around the streets of Vancouver, Washington and Portland, Oregon on his bicycle.


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