WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — In Wichita, the “leash law” is a provision of a city code that prohibits certain domestic animals from roaming free.
City Code 6.04.040a, or the “leash law,” states, “Any owner, keeper or harborer of any animal, other than cats, found running at large within the corporate limits of the city shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor. Knowledge or intention on the part of the owner, keeper or harborer shall not be elements of this offense. An Animal Services Officer may seize, impound and cause to be destroyed any such animal, including those animals not within the definitions of the Kansas Pet Animal Act, using the procedures set out at K.S.A. 47-1710. The Supervisor of Animal Services may return the animal to its rightful owner, keeper or harborer upon request and may require the payment of a service charge and a boarding fee for days spent in confinement at the shelter prior to return of the animal. If any animal impounded for any reason is determined by the Animal Services Officer to require confinement separate from other like animals in order to protect the health and well-being of that animal, staff, the public, or other animals being housed at the animal holding facility due to any aggressive behavior and/or any disease or medical conditions, the boarding fee for such animal shall be twice the normal boarding fee established by the animal shelter.”
Animal Control says the law goes on to include electronic fencing as adequate confinement if “the premises of the owner are clearly and prominently marked to show the existence of the electronic fencing system and the animal is equipped with the necessary and operating components of the system required to confine the animal to the owner’s property.”
According to the City’s Animal Control, Wichita’s leash laws exist not only to protect the community but because:
- “Animals roaming free are more likely to come into contact with known rabies carriers such as skunks and raccoons. They are also more likely to spread parasites and other diseases to animals and humans.”
- “Each year, free-roaming animals cause millions of dollars in insurance claims, property loss and damage, medical bills, and loss of productivity. Animal bite injuries, property damage, and car accidents are major problems caused by animals allowed to run at large.”
- “Animals allowed to roam contribute markedly to pet overpopulation. Millions of pets are euthanized each year at animal shelters, humane societies, and the ASPCAs (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty) to Animals in an effort to just keep up with the burgeoning pet population in our nation. Free roaming, unaltered dogs breed indiscriminately and add to this already tragic situation. In addition to contributing to pet overpopulation, packs of dogs pursuing a female in the season become more aggressive and will bite more readily.”
The code also states that anyone convicted of being charged with an animal running at large will be punished as follows:
- Upon a first conviction, a fine of not less than $100 nor more than $1,000 shall be assessed.
- Upon a second conviction, a fine of not less than $200 nor more than $1,000 shall be assessed.
- Upon a third or subsequent conviction, a fine of not less than $300 nor more than $1,000 shall be assessed, and the owner must appear in Municipal Court.
In addition to the previous punishments, the code states any owner, keeper or harborer of any unaltered dog (an animal that has not been surgically sterilized) shall be required to:
- Have an identification microchip implanted in the dog traceable to the current owner and registered with the City of Wichita; and
- Have the dog surgically sterilized by a licensed veterinarian within thirty days of redemption of said dog, at his or her own expense. It shall be a violation of this ordinance to fail to have the dog surgically sterilized or provide proof from a licensed veterinarian that said the dog has previously been surgically sterilized or has been surgically sterilized and microchipped within thirty days after redemption of said dog as indicated in this ordinance; or
- The owner, keeper or harborer may maintain the aforementioned dog intact by paying an additional unaltered animal fee, the amount of which shall be established by the Supervisor of Animal Services or designee, to redeem such dog from the Animal Shelter. Such dog may be maintained intact provided that the dog is not found to be running at large on any subsequent occurrence within the dog’s lifetime.
- For any dog required to be surgically sterilized, the Supervisor of Animal Services shall collect payment for and issue a spay/neuter voucher at the time of the animal’s redemption, and the owner, keeper or harborer shall provide documentation of the sterilization upon completion. Such voucher shall remain valid for thirty (30) days. Any owner, keeper or harborer failing to provide documentation of the sterilization procedure within thirty days of impoundment shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor. If the dog’s owner had a valid dog license, such owner shall not receive a refund of the licensing fees paid for the altering or microchipping of the dog. Upon the renewal of the license, the amount will be changed to reflect the altering and microchipping of the dog.
According to the code, on the second occurrence of any intact dog impounded by Animal Services for running at large, the owner, keeper or harborer of such dog shall be required to have the animal surgically sterilized by a licensed veterinarian within thirty days of redemption of said dog at his or her own expense. For any animal required to be surgically sterilized, the Supervisor of Animal Services shall collect payment for and issue a spay/neuter voucher at the time of the animal’s redemption, and the owner, keeper or harborer shall provide documentation of the sterilization upon completion. Any owner, keeper or harborer failing to provide documentation of the sterilization procedure within thirty days of impoundment shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor.
The code also states, “Animals which are kept on the premises of any pet store shall not be allowed, by the store owner or any employee, to run at large inside the store or on the external premises of the pet store during business hours, and no person shall allow any animal under their care or control to run at large on the premises of any store during business hours. This provision shall not apply to animals participating in supervised training classes within an enclosed area of the store.”
There is an exception to the “leash law,” which states, “In addition to exceptions enumerated in 6.04.218, animals may be permitted to run at large by authority of any federal, state or local law enforcement agency or by authority of a Department Head of the City of Wichita for official purpose or use so long as the animal is under the control of a trained handler.”