Galveston Leash Laws:
Sec. 7-2. – Running at large prohibited.
(a) An owner of an animal shall ensure that such animal does not run at large in violation of this chapter and an owner shall be subject to punishment without regard to whether the owner was acting with a culpable mental state.
(b) It shall be unlawful for any person owning, keeping or having any animal in his possession or control to allow it to run at large.
(c) It shall be unlawful to allow any animal to be restrained by a leash, rope or cord and not be under the immediate control of the owner of the animal.
(d) The provisions of this section shall not apply if:
(1) The animal is under restraint by the owner;
(2) The animal is participating in obedience training or competition, dog shows, field trails or performing acts such as herding under the control and supervision of an owner or handler;
(3) The animal is found to be a dangerous dog and subject to the conditions of section 7-15; or
(4) The animal is wild or exotic animal prohibited by section 7-40
(e) Each time an animal runs at large in violation of this section constitutes a separate offense, punishable by a fine of not more than one hundred dollars ($100.00).
Galveston Dangerous Dog Law:
Sec. 7-15. – Dangerous dogs.
(a) Purpose and scope.
(1) The purpose of this section is to protect the health, safety, and general welfare of the city by providing for the disposition of dogs determined to be dangerous.
(2) The administrative procedures of this section shall apply to any dog required to be restrained in accordance with this section which, while running at large or while restrained in a public place, has bitten or attacked a person or, while running at large or while restrained in a public place, has bitten or attacked another animal.
(b) Definitions. Words or terms used in this section shall have the following meanings, unless the context shall indicate another or different meaning or intent.
Bodily injury means physical pain, illness, or any impairment of physical condition.
Leash shall mean secured on the owner’s property by a leash, or other humane restraint, no longer than four (4) feet in length, held by a person of sufficient strength to restrain the animal, and muzzled by a muzzling device sufficient to prevent the animal from biting any person or any other animal.
Menacing means the showing by a dog of a disposition, determination, or intent to attack or inflict injury or harm to a person or another domestic animal, such as any one, or a combination, of the following or similar acts: biting, snarling, charging aggressively toward a person or another animal, growling with curled lips, popping of teeth, or barking with raised hackles.
Register means to fully comply with and maintain all conditions of registration (subsection (e)) and applicable orders, including the following:
(1) Provide the animal control authority with the name, address and telephone number of the person owning or harboring a dangerous dog;
(2) Provide the animal control authority with the name, general description and two color photographs, one depicting a frontal view and one depicting a side view of the dangerous dog;
(3) Agree to inspections by animal control officers of the dangerous dog and the premises on which the dangerous dog is kept at any reasonable time to insure compliance with the provisions of this article; and
(4) Payment of any cost or fee assessed by the animal control authority related to the registration, seizure, acceptance, impoundment, or destruction of the dog.
Secure enclosure means a house, building, structure, or pen which is:
(2) Capable of preventing the entry of the general public, including children;
(3) Capable of preventing the escape or release of a dog;
(4) Clearly marked as containing a dangerous dog;
(5) Dimensions suitable for the humane welfare of the dog, including cleanliness, water, and food;
(6) Enclosed such that a dangerous dog cannot climb, dig, jump or otherwise escape of its own volition; and
(7) Constructed to provide protection from the elements for the dangerous dog.
Serious bodily injury means an injury characterized by sever bite wounds or severe ripping and tearing of muscle that would cause a reasonably prudent person to seek treatment from a medical professional and would require hospitalization without regard to whether the person actually sought medical treatment. An offense involving serious bodily injury is a class A misdemeanor with criminal jurisdiction for its enforcement in the Galveston County Courts.
Sign(s) shall mean a sign, at least eight (8) inches by twelve (12) inches, of a permanent nature stating “BEWARE OF DANGEROUS DOG” in red lettering on a white background. The lettering shall be no less than two (2) inches in height and made of a reflective material that is visible in low-light situations or at night. In addition, the sign shall include a symbol warning, understandable by small children, of the presence of a dangerous dog.
Unprovoked or without provocation means the dog was not hit, kicked, or struck by the person or animal with any object or part of the attacked person’s or animal’s body nor was any part of the dog’s body pulled, pinched or squeezed by the person or animal.
(c) Requirements for a dangerous dog.
(1) Not later than the 30th day after the person learns that the person is the owner of a dangerous dog, the person shall:
a. Register the dangerous dog with the animal control authority for the area in which the dog is kept;
b. Restrain the dangerous dog at all times on a leash in the immediate control of a person or in a secure enclosure;
c. Obtain liability insurance coverage or show financial responsibility in an amount of at least one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000.00) to cover damages resulting from an attack by the dangerous dog causing bodily injury to a person and provide proof of the required liability insurance coverage or financial responsibility to the animal control authority for the area in which the dog is kept;
d. Conspicuously display signs, approved by the animal control authority at the property lines located on the front and rear of the property and on the secure enclosure of the dangerous dog;
e. Post written notice to all persons residing within two hundred (200) feet of the owner’s house of the presence of the dangerous dog; and
f. The animal control official may require a secure bottom to the structure or pen if the need is demonstrated.
(2) The owner of the dangerous dog who does not comply with subsection (1) shall immediately deliver the dog to the animal control authority.
(3) If, on application of any person, the municipal court finds, after notice and hearing as provided by subsection (h), that the owner of the dog has failed to comply with subsections (c)(1) or (c)(2), the court shall order the animal control authority to seize the dog and shall issue a warrant authorizing the seizure. The animal control authority shall seize the dog or order its seizure and shall provide for the impoundment of the dog in secure and humane conditions.
(4) The owner shall pay any cost or fee assessed by the city and or animal shelter.
(5) The court shall order the animal control authority to humanely destroy the dog if the owner has not complied with subsection (c)(1) before the 11th day after the date on which the dog is seized or delivered to the animal control authority. The court shall order the authority to return the dog to the owner if the owner complies with subsection (c)(1) before the 11th day after the date on which the dog is seized or delivered to the animal control authority.
(6) The court may order the humane destruction of a dog if the owner of the dog has not been located before the 15th day after the seizure and impoundment of the dog.
(7) For purposes of this section, a person learns that the person is the owner of a dangerous dog when:
a. The owner knows of a dangerous dog attack described in subsection 7-1(f);
b. The owner receives notice that the Galveston Municipal Court has found that the dog is a dangerous dog under subsection (h); or
c. The owner is informed by the animal control authority that the dog has been determined to be a dangerous dog under subsection (d).
(d) Reporting of incident.
(1) Animal control authority.
a. If a person reports a dangerous dog incident, the animal control authority may investigate the incident. The animal control authority may adopt appropriate forms to aid in the enforcement of this section. If, after receiving the sworn statements of any witnesses, the animal control authority determines the dog is a dangerous dog, it shall notify the owner of the determination.
b. An owner, not later than the 15th day after the date the owner is notified that a dog owned by the owner is a dangerous dog, may appeal the determination of the animal control authority to the Galveston Municipal Court. An owner may appeal the decision of the Galveston Municipal Court in the same manner as appeal for other cases from the municipal court.
(2) Municipal court.
a. A person may also report a dangerous dog incident to the municipal court. The owner of the dog shall deliver the dog to the animal control authority not later than the fifth day after the date on which the owner receives notice that the report has been filed. The animal control authority may otherwise provide for the impoundment of the dog in secure and humane conditions until the court orders the disposition of the dog.
b. If the owner fails to deliver the dog as required by subsection (d)(2)a., the court shall order the animal control authority to seize the dog and shall issue a warrant authorizing the seizure. The authority shall seize the dog or order its seizure and shall provide for the impoundment of the dog in secure and humane conditions until the court orders the disposition of the dog. The owner shall pay any cost incurred in seizing the dog.
c. The court shall determine, after notice and hearing as provided in subsection (h), whether the dog is a dangerous dog.
d. The court, after determining that the dog is a dangerous dog, may order the animal control authority to continue to impound the dangerous dog in secure and humane conditions until the court orders disposition of the dog under subsection (c) and the dog is returned to the owner or destroyed.
e. The owner shall pay a cost or fee assessed under subsection (c)(4).
(1)The animal control authority shall annually register a dangerous dog if the owner:
A .Presents proof of:
1. liability insurance or financial responsibility as required by subsection (c);
2. Current rabies vaccination of the dangerous dog;
3. The secure enclosure in which the dangerous dog will be kept;
b. Pays an annual registration fee of fifty dollars ($50.00).
(2) The animal control authority shall provide to the owner registering a dangerous dog a registration tag. The owner must place the tag on the dog’s collar and commits an offense if the tag and collar are not securely attached to the dog.
(3) If the owner of a registered dangerous dog sells or moves the dog to a new address, the owner, prior to the sale or move, shall notify the animal control authority for the city or the area in which the new address is located. On presentation by the current owner of the dangerous dog’s prior registration tag, compliance with registration and dangerous dog requirements, and payment of a fee of twenty-five dollars ($25.00), the animal control authority shall issue a new registration tag to be placed on the dangerous dog’s collar. Any dangerous dog moved into the city must be registered and meet the dangerous dog requirements prior to locating the dangerous dog in the city.
(4) The owner of a registered dangerous dog shall notify the office in which the dangerous dog was registered of any attacks the dangerous dog makes on people or domesticated animals.
(5) The owner of a registered dangerous dog shall notify the animal control authority if the dangerous dog dies during the term of the registration.
(f) Making a false complaint. It shall be a class C misdemeanor for any person to file or sign a written complaint required by this section when the person knows that the complaint contains false information.
(1) Any owner of any dog, which is subject to an investigation under this section, shall immediately notify the animal control authority if such dog escapes or becomes or appears to become sick or dies. In case of death of the dog under investigation, the person shall immediately surrender the carcass to the animal control authority for diagnostic purposes.
(2) It shall be unlawful for any person to refuse or fail to impound a dog subject to this section, or harbor, hide or secret a dog subject to this section, for the purpose of preventing its impoundment.
(3) It shall be unlawful for any person to transport, or secure the transport, of a dog subject to this section to any location outside the incorporated limits of the city if the person has knowledge that the dog is the subject of an investigation under this article. Nothing in this section shall preclude an animal control officer from immediately impounding a dog that poses an immediate threat to the health and safety of the citizens of the city.
(1) The jurisdiction for the hearing of a dangerous dog determination under subsection (d) or subsection (c)(3) shall be the Galveston Municipal Court, which shall set a time for a hearing to determine whether the dog is a dangerous dog or whether the owner of the dog has complied with subsection (c).
(2) The owner of a dog subject to a dangerous animal determination hearing under this section, or the person from whom the dog was seized, and the person who made the complaint shall be notified, in writing, of the date, time and location of the hearing within five (5) days after the impoundment of the dog.
(3) The determination hearing shall be held not later than the 10th day after impoundment of the dog.
(4) The municipal judge shall consider evidence provided by any interested party, including the city attorney, in making its determination.
(5) If the municipal judge determines that the dog, which is the subject of the hearing, is a danger to the community, the municipal judge shall issue an order as to the disposition of the dangerous dog and any conditions that may be placed upon the owner for the continued maintenance of the dangerous dog.
(6) Nothing in this section precludes the owner of a dangerous dog, which is the subject of the hearing from waiving its right to a determination hearing. If a person waives the right to a hearing, the dog will be deemed to be dangerous and the owner shall immediately comply with any conditions imposed or authorize the destruction of the dangerous dog. If the dangerous dog is ordered destroyed and is impounded at the animal shelter, the owner shall release the dangerous dog to the animal shelter for destruction. If the dangerous dog is ordered destroyed and impounded at a veterinary clinic, the owner shall have the dangerous dog destroyed by the licensed veterinarian immediately and provide documentation of the destruction to the animal control authority.
(i) Violations and penalties.
(1) The owner of a dangerous dog commits an offense if the dangerous dog makes an unprovoked attack or a menacing act on a person outside the dog’s enclosure or the dangerous dog made an unprovoked attack, or menacing act on an animal outside the dog’s enclosure.
(2) The owner of a dog commits an offense if the owner fails to comply with any provision or any determination or order issued pursuant to this section.
(3) It shall be unlawful for any person to interfere with an animal control officer in the performance of the duties of the animal control officer.
(4) An offense under this section is a class C misdemeanor, unless the attack causes serious bodily injury or death, in which event the offense is a class A misdemeanor.
(5) An offense under this section is a class B misdemeanor if it is shown on the trial of the offense that the defendant has previously been convicted under this section.
(6) If a person is found guilty of an offense under this section, the court may order the dangerous dog destroyed by a person listed in the V.T.C.A., Texas Health and Safety Code § 822.004 or as amended.
(7) In addition to criminal prosecution, a person who commits an offense under this section is liable for a civil penalty not to exceed ten thousand dollars ($10,000.00). An attorney for the city may file suit in a court of competent jurisdiction to collect the penalty. Penalties collected under this subsection shall be retained by the city.
(8) It is a defense to prosecution for an attack by a dangerous dog or for complying with the requirements of a dangerous dog if the person is:
a. A veterinarian, a peace officer, a person employed by a recognized animal shelter, or a person employed by the state or a political subdivision of the state to deal with stray animals and has temporary ownership, custody, or control of the dog in connection with that position;
b. An employee of the institutional division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice or a law enforcement agency and trains or uses dogs for law enforcement or corrections purpose; or
c. A dog trainer or an employee of a guard dog company under V.T.C.A., Texas Occupations Code, ch. 1702, as amended.
Paul Cannon has practiced personal injury trial law since 1995. He is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law (2005). He has earned recognition as a Super Lawyer by Thompson Reuters in 2017 & 2018, and as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers Association in 2017. He is a Shareholder, trial lawyer and online marketing manager at Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. His legal writings have been published by the Texas Bar Journal, Business.com, Lawyer.com HG Legal Resources, Lawfirms.com, and others. He has been asked to give education talks and media interviews on dog bite law.