If you allow any of the following, you could be cited or arrested and punished by a fine of $10-$100 and/or sentenced to no more than 3 months in jail.

  • Allowing your dog off leash in public
  • Not having a dog that is 4 months or older licensed and current on shots
  • Own any dog older than 6 months without it being licensed
  • Allowing your dog to escape your property

Below is one of the most commonly cited sections of the Dog Law of 1919, and the basis for many leash law violations.

“…for any owner to allow any dog, except working dogs such as leader dogs, guard dogs, farm dogs, hunting dogs, and other such dogs, when accompanied by their owner or his authorized agent, while actively engaged in activities for which such dogs are trained, to stray unless held properly in leash.” Mich. Comp. Laws § 287.262

Under this statute, an “owner” is basically anyone who has control over the dog or allows it to stay on their property. So, dog sitters, relatives, spouses, etc. can generally be held liable for this offense; not strictly the legal owner to which the dog is licensed.

We practice a lot in Montcalm County, Michigan. Locally, if cited for this violation, it is referred to as a “dog at large” case. It is surprising how many of these cases we see. Most of the citations are issued after several warnings from local law enforcement or animal control.

If someone pleads guilty or is convicted of this offense it counts as a misdemeanor conviction and will show up on a background check. Obviously, it is not as serious as an OWI, Assault and Battery, or drug offense, but it still results in a misdemeanor conviction.

That said, there is a purpose behind the law, whether you agree with the punishment or not. Please, be considerate and leash your dogs. The law is in place to protect people and other dogs.

***This post is not legal advice. If you have questions or need assistance, contact an attorney.***

Kyle Strobridge – Attorney/Co-Owner of Strobridge & Hunter, Attorneys at Law, PLC