Why Phoenix Dog Bite Attorneys Say Arizona Leash Laws are Critical

“If a dog bites a pedestrian on public property while unleashed or considered a “dog at large,” dog owners are not only exposed to a lawsuit from the person injured, but they also have to answer for violating the Arizona leash laws.”


Hopefully, you’ve never had to go through the painful experience of a bad dog bite. If you have, or even if you know someone who has, you probably understand why Arizona leash laws are so important for our communities here in Maricopa County.

Dog bites are dangerous and more common in Arizona than you’d think. In 2014, the Arizona Department of Health Services (DHS) conducted a thorough study of dog bites in the state. They found that over a four-year period, more than 34,000 people had to go to the ER due to a dog bite and, over 2000 people were hospitalized from these injuries. This was an increase of 139% from previous years. The median cost for these hospitalizations was $17,000, and one-third of dog bite victims were children under the age of 14.

Attorneys at Goodnow Mckay, who focus on personal injury cases like dog bites, know that Arizona leash laws are critical to preventing unnecessary traumatizing injuries and costly hospital bills.

According to Attorney Chris Goodnow, a founding partner at Goodnow McKay, dog owners should know that these leash laws help them too; they prevent litigation, insurance premium increases, loss of insurance, and having to make the difficult decision to put a family pet down.

Arizona leash law Overview: From State Laws to City Codes

Arizona dog laws are nothing new, but it’s important to understand how they work. As in many other states, leash laws exist at both the state level and city level. Here in Maricopa County, leash laws exist at the county level as well. Which laws you have to comply with depends on where your dog is.

Arizona Dog Laws

Arizona’s dog laws can be found under Title 7, Articles 6 and 6.1. These articles cover everything from rabies, to registering, to shelters.

› Dogs at Large in Arizona

A.R.S. 11-2025 renders the dog’s owner or caretaker liable for the injuries their dog inflicts while it is not on a leash and is out in public. These injuries include bites and scratches.

› Dogs On a Leash That Bite People in Arizona

A.R.S. 11-1025 imposes strict liability on an animal that bites someone in public even if the animal is on a leash. This provision applies exclusively to dog bites, not scratches.

› Arizona Collar and License Tag Requirements

The law also states that any dog at large that is 3 months or older must have a harness or collar attached to a valid license tag.

› Arizona Leash Law

Dogs must be on a leash not more than six feet long and directly under the owner’s control when not on the owner’s property. Dogs on public or public school property must be “restrained by a leash, [or] enclosed in a car, cage or similar enclosure.”

Maricopa County Dog Laws

The Maricopa County dog law is Ordinance No. 13: Rabies/Animal Control.

› Dogs At Large in Maricopa County

This county-level Arizona leash law is more strict than its state counterpart. It does not permit ANY dog over the age of 4 months to be at large, regardless of whether they are vicious or not.

› Maricopa County Collar and License Tag Requirements

Dogs must wear a collar or harness with a valid license tag any time it’s not under the control of the owner, even if it’s confined to the owner’s property.

› Maricopa County Leash Law

Dog owners must make sure their dog is on a leash no more than 6 feet long at all times and directly under the owner’s direction when not on the owner’s property.

Maricopa County makes reporting any violation of the county ordinance easy through its online form.

Phoenix Dog Laws

Arizona leash laws at the city level exist through city codes. The Phoenix leash law can be found under Chapter 8, Article III, Section 8-14 of Phoenix’s city code.

› Dogs At Large in Phoenix

Like the Maricopa County ordinance, no dogs are permitted at large regardless of whether they are vicious or not.

› Phoenix Collar and License Tag Requirements

Dogs 3 months or older and NOT on the owner’s property must wear a collar or harness and a valid license tag.

› Phoenix Leash Law

Dogs must be either confined to an enclosure or on a leash that is no more than six feet long and directly under the owner’s or custodian’s direct when not on the owner’s or custodian’s property.

Exceptions to Arizona dog laws

There are exceptions to Arizona dog laws. Dogs are not considered “at large” if they are:

    • being exhibited or trained at a recognized kennel club event approved by the appropriate authority
    • used to control livestock.
    • participating in a racing event approved by the Arizona Racing Commission.
    • in the dog owner’s home off-leash.

“Over a four-year period, more than 34,000 people had to go to the ER due to a dog bite and, over 2000 people were hospitalized from these injuries.”

  In these instances, the dog may or may not still have to be leashed. This will depend on the type of event and the event’s rules as approved by the appropriate city or county level office.

An exception to the Arizona leash law is off-leash dog parks. Dogs don’t need to be leashed in dog parks that are specifically designated as off-leash parks by the appropriate authority. For example, in Phoenix, the Director or the Parks and Recreation Board can designate a park as an off-leash dog park.

Arizona Leash Laws Prevent Injuries and Other Costs

Arizona leash laws help prevent dog bites by making sure that owners don’t leave a dog that is a danger to the community at large or off-leash.

Attorney Goodnow says that if a dog bites a pedestrian on public property while unleashed or considered a “dog at large,” dog owners are not only exposed to a lawsuit from the person injured, but they also have to answer for violating the Arizona leash laws.

These violations can result in fines and putting your dog down. Arizona leash law fines will vary depending on the severity of the violation. Under Phoenix’s city code and Maricopa County’s ordinance, the penalty can also include jail time.

In a civil lawsuit, dog owners found liable for a victim’s dog bite injuries will have to pay for the victim’s personal injury damages, including all medical bills. Attorney Goodnow notes that medical bills in dog bite cases can cost tens of thousands of dollars, and even more if serious reconstructive surgery is necessary. Further, Arizona is a strict liability state for dog bites.

Clearly, leash laws are good for all community members. According to the personal injury specialists at Goodnow Mckay, regardless of where you live in Arizona, it’s important to know which Arizona leash laws apply to you at the state, county, and city level.

Contact Dog Bite Attorneys Goodnow McKay

After a dog bite, you should get as much information from the dog’s owner as possible. This will allow you to contact the dog’s owner to file a claim against their insurance policy. If the insurer does not offer a fair settlement or the dog owner lacks insurance, you should consider hiring a dog bite lawyer to negotiate or litigate the case. Contact the team at Goodnow McKay for a free case review of your dog bite case.

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