Enjoy the Outdoors with your Furry Friends Safely!

Remember Harris County’s Leash Laws and Dog Bite Prevention Tips

HOUSTON – As community members and pet owners around Harris County enjoy the fall weather and time outdoors this holiday season, Harris County Public Health’s (HCPH) Veterinary Public Health Division (VPH) reminds residents of important bite prevention methods and local leash laws in Harris County.

The American Veterinary Association estimates that each year nearly 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs, and more than 800,000 require medical treatment for a dog bite incident. Dogs can bite people for various reasons, but bite incidents occur most often when the dog feels stressed, hungry, threatened, sick, or sore.

Pet owners are always responsible for their pet’s behavior. All pet owners must keep dogs and cats restrained (leashed) in unincorporated parts of Harris County. Restraint is defined as the control of a dog or cat under the following circumstances:

  • When it is under control through a line or leash not more than 6 feet long or held by a human.
  • When it is secured in your vehicle.
  • When it is in the confines of your private dwelling that is not accessible to members of the public.

What Can Dog Owners Do?

There are several things you can do to keep your dog healthy and safe:

  • Socialize your pet to feel comfortable around people and other animals.
  • Make sure you train your dog properly and have proper behavior education.
  • Walk and exercise your dog regularly to keep it healthy, both physically and mentally.
  • Ensure the dog is leashed (no longer than 6 feet) and can be secured in your vehicle when traveling to public places.
  • Keep your dog up to date with vaccinations.
  • Have your pet spayed or neutered.
  • If you have a fenced yard, ensure the gates are secure.

How Can You Protect Your Family?

Generally, dog bites are a preventable public health issue. Here are some safety tips to reduce the chances of being bitten:

  • Teach children – and adults – to be careful around pets.  Do not approach strange dogs or try to pet dogs through fences.
  • NEVER run away from a dog that appears to be aggressive. Remain calm and avoid eye contact.
  • Always ask permission from the dog’s owner before petting the dog.
  • NEVER leave a baby or small child alone with a dog.
  • Always be alert for possible dangerous situations.
  • Do not bother a dog that is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.
  • Report stray animals to your local animal control agency. Harris County residents can call Harris County Pets at (281) 999-3191 for assistance.

For more information on preventing dog bites, contact Harris County Pets at (281) 999-3191 or visit our website at hcphtx.org/vph or www.countypets.com.