Dog At Large: Arizona’s Laws

dog at large

Dog At Large: Arizona’s Laws

A “dog at large” is one which is completely unrestrained, whether by tether, leash, or something similar. Arizona state statute provides laws regulating when a dog may or may not be at large, with additional laws governed by city ordinance.

Arizona Dog at Large State Law

A.R.S. 11-1012 covers the situations in which a dog may or may not be at large within the state. Dogs may not be at large in the following situations:

  • A female dog during her breeding/mating season.
  • A vicious dog.
  • In a rabies quarantine area.
    • In this situation, each dog must be confined within an enclosure on the owner’s property, secured so that the dog is confined entirely to the owner’s property, or on a leash not to exceed six feet in length and directly under the owner’s control when not on the owner’s property.
  • In a public park, unless the dog is being exhibited or trained at a recognized kennel club event, public school, or park sponsored event.
  • On public school property, unless being exhibited or trained at a recognized kennel club event, public school, or park sponsored event.

Dogs may enter a public park or public school property if they are physically restrained by a leash or enclosed in a car, cage, or similar enclosure.

Dogs running at large outside of these areas, and over three months old, must wear a collar or harness to which is attached a valid license tag.

Exemption: Dogs that are used for control of livestock, being used or trained for hunting dogs, being exhibited or trained at a kennel club event, or engaged in races approved by the Arizona racing commission, and while the dogs are being transported to and from such events, need not wear a collar or harness with a valid license attached provided that they are properly vaccinated, licensed and controlled.

Penalties for Dog at Large Charges

While state law does not criminalize dog at large, most cities and municipalities within the state do issue criminal penalties for this offense. The city ordinances follow the outline in A.R.S. 11-1012 with the addition of criminal charges. Examples include:

City of Phoenix

According to the City of Phoenix’s municipal code, a law enforcement officer may do any of the following when a dog is at large:

  • Apprehend, impound, or euthanize the dog.
  • Issue a citation to the dog owner of a class 1 misdemeanor.
  • Fine a repeat offender up to $100 for a second offense or up to $500 for an additional offense.
  • Imprison the dog owner up to five days with a fine of up to $500 if the dog was previously determined to be vicious.

Offending dog owners will not be eligible for suspension or commutation of sentence unless such person is placed on probation with the condition that the minimum fine be paid and term of imprisonment be served.

City of Mesa

Per the City of Mesa’s city code, anyone convicted of a dog at large charge can face:

  • Misdemeanor charges.
  • Fined up to $2500.
  • Imprisonment of up to six months.
City of Scottsdale

Scottsdale’s city code allows for law enforcement to apprehend and impound a dog at large and gives them the right to enter private property to do so.

Violations are class 3 misdemeanors.

Dog Bite Laws

Dog at large laws are in place to protect the general public, especially from vicious dogs or dogs that may bite. Arizona is a “strict liability” state regarding dog bites, meaning the owner of a dog that bites and causes injury to a person will be immediately held responsible for all liability.

While Arizona’s dog bite statute lays out liability when it comes to such bites, Arizona cities and municipalities maintain their own specific laws regarding this offense. Offenders typically face misdemeanor charges that can include incarceration and hefty fines.


Rideout Law Group recommends always keeping a spare leash and collar in your vehicle when you travel with your dog and checking your property line regularly for loose fencing or opened doors that could allow your dog to escape your property and become at large.

Dog at large issues can become serious quickly, especially if your dog causes harm to another person in the process. Call Rideout Law Group today if you are facing these charges.



With offices in Lake Havasu City and Scottsdale, our firm serves the entire state of Arizona, with a particular focus on criminal defense, family law, and juvenile cases.

Our goal is for the best outcome for your criminal case, which can include:

  • charges that are reduced or dropped.
  • top experts reviewing your case.
  • aggressive negotiations with the prosecution for plea bargains.
  • fines or probation in lieu of jail time.

At Rideout Law Group, our attorneys are able to expertly examine the evidence in your case to provide a strong strategy for argument that leads to an outcome that is most favorable to you. We have experience in all types of criminal cases for both adults and juveniles, with positive outcomes both in plea negotiations as well as jury trial settings.

Call us today for a free consultation at 480-584-3328.

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