Indiana Leash Laws: What You Need To Know

May 29

Millions of Americans are proud dog owners, including many Hoosiers. Dogs enrich lives in many ways, but they can also be an injury risk. No matter how friendly and docile owners think their dogs might be, dogs are still animals with innate instincts that can be triggered at any moment. Dog owners must take several precautions to protect others from their dogs. Putting their dog on a leash while in public is one of the most basic precautions. Many states have a statewide leash law requiring this. However, Indiana is not one of them. 


If a dog bites or otherwise injures you or someone you love. In that case, whether the dog was on a leash or not, you may be entitled to receive financial compensation for your injuries. Meet with a qualified Indiana dog bite lawyer to learn about your legal options.


County and City Leash Laws in Indiana

Instead of the state mandating dog owners keep their dogs on a leash, Indiana leaves leash laws up to the individual county and city jurisdictions. In general, a dog should be restrained at all times, no matter if it is on the owner’s or public property, under most city and county ordinances. Although, many allow exceptions, such as when located in a designated leash-free park. 


For example, here are a few local ordinances and codes addressing the topic:


Indianapolis Code 531-102a

Owners and keepers of animals must ensure their animal is not “at large” in the city of Indianapolis. This means the animal should never be unconfined, unleashed, or otherwise with a means of escape from a yard, pen, vehicle, house, or other enclosure. When a dog is not confined, the owner must have it on a leash and under their control at all times. 


Fort Wayne City Code 91.020

Owners must ensure that their animals are properly restrained. This means they must have a secure lead or leash and also be under the owner or another party’s control. When not on a leash, an animal must be properly confined within the boundaries of the owner’s property. 


Hammond Ordinance 9151-A

Animal owners must always ensure that their animals – both on and off the property – are restrained. When on the owner’s property, an animal must be confined by a fence of sufficient height or a lead that is at least six feet long and keeps the animal within the property boundaries. When off the property, an owner must have the animal on a leash less than six feet in length and never allow the animal over three feet away from them or to be without the owner’s physical control. 

Indiana Leash Laws

Muncie Code 90.06  

Anyone owning or in charge or custody of an animal must ensure the animal cannot run at large on any street, road, alley, private property or premises, public places, or anywhere else without specific permission within Muncie. “At large” refers to allowing the animal to be off the owner’s premises and without a leash or other reasonable control by the owner or part of the owner’s immediate family. 


Evansville City Code 6.05.060F 

If the animal is off the owner’s property, it must be on a leash attached to the animal’s harness or collar, with the other end of the leash attached to someone who is in control of the dog. 

As you can see, most leash laws in different municipalities in Indiana are similar. They involve requirements of a leash when off the owner’s property – unless exceptions apply. 

Failure to adhere to the leash law in one of these or other municipalities can result in fines and other consequences, even if the dog doesn’t bite or otherwise injure someone. If a dog injures someone, additional consequences can apply. 

A dog owner is required by law to reasonably act to prevent the dog from attacking others. If an owner fails to take appropriate precautions and their dog bites someone, they may be liable for the damages caused. 

Municipal leash laws usually play a role in an injury claim when a dog bite occurs. For example, suppose an owner lets a known aggressive dog let off its leash and the dog bites someone in a public place. In that case, the fact that dogs must remain on leashes under local rules would be a strong argument for the dog owner’s negligence. Leash law violations can help dog bite victims hold owners liable for their injuries. 


What if a Dog Bites Someone While on A Leash?

Unfortunately, having a dog on a leash doesn’t guarantee that it will behave and that no one can get hurt. While it decreases the chances of an incident, in some cases it won’t prevent one. 

Under certain circumstances, the dog’s owner could still be liable if it bites someone while leashed. 

Under § 15-20-1 of the Indiana Code, the dog’s owner can be held criminally and financially responsible for dog bite injuries if these conditions apply to the circumstances:

  • The dog’s owner recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally did not take reasonable steps to restrain the dog while it was leashed;
  • The dog went on another party’s property; and
  • Because they failed to restrain their dog, it bit or otherwise attacked someone without being provoked, causing them bodily injury

While most criminal charges for dog bites are misdemeanors, some circumstances result in felony charges.


The Statute of Limitations 

In Indiana, a dog bite victim has two years to file a lawsuit with the civil court, the same deadline that applies to many other personal injury claims. If the victim doesn’t file a lawsuit within the 2-year period, the court likely won’t hear your case. Instead, the liable party will ask the court to dismiss the case based on the expired statute of limitations. 

While two years can seem like plenty of time, it’s not that long when it comes to personal injury claims. This makes contacting an attorney as soon as possible essential to the success of your claim. The sooner you contact an attorney, the longer they will have to investigate and build your claim for compensation. 


Should You Hire an Indiana Dog Bite Attorney?

If a dog injures you or someone you love, you might wonder if you should hire an attorney, handle your case alone, or simply get medical attention and hope you recover. The dog owner may owe you compensation for your damages under Indiana’s civil laws. 


Having a seasoned Indiana dog bite attorney on your side is essential as it not only helps reduce your stress during this time of uncertainty but helps you to pursue fair compensation for your injuries. 


Your attorney and their team can help by:


  • Gathering evidence in your case
  • Writing a demand letter
  • Attempting settlement negotiations
  • Tracking your medical bills and other expenses
  • Calculating your damages
  • Guiding you through your case, including taking steps to protect your legal rights
  • Determining what insurance policies can be used in your case


Were You Bitten or Attacked by a Dog? Contact Blackburn Romey Today for Help

Dogs may be man’s best friend but they are still animals with instincts. This is a fact that many dog owners seem to forget quickly, especially when they ignore local leash laws. At Blackburn Romey, our attorneys understand the devastation, trauma, fear, and serious injuries that can come from a dog bite or animal attack. They also know the scarring and disfigurement that may impact you for the rest of your life and the complications that might arise from your injuries.


You can count on us to fight for compensation for you. To schedule your no-obligation consultation, call us at 833.264.0903 or use our online contact form today.

Tom Blackburn

Blackburn Romey founding partner Tom Blackburn graduated with honors receiving a degree from Indiana University at the Robert H. McKinney School of Law. Initiating his legal career in 1977, he has been active in practicing law and currently serves as a member of the Indiana State Bar Association on the Ethics and Advertising Committees, the American Bar Association, the American Association for Justice, as a board member at the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association, and as an appointed member of the Executive Committee for the State of Indiana for the National Trial Lawyers Association.

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This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by Founding Partner, Tom Blackburn, who has more than 47 years of legal experience, including over 39 years specializing as a personal injury attorney.