Limits on Dog Ownership in Texas

Full Question:

After living in my home for 13 years, one of my dogs got out of my wooden 6 foot fence. I immediately called the police department who transferred me to animal control. I told them that my dog was 1 year old and just neutered. I heard someone in the background say that hadn't picked up anything like that. Two weeks later animal control pounded on my door; which my wife answered. The rookie control officer stated that he had a dead dog with our dog's tag. My wife called me out and by that time my other dogs where barking. He asked me how many I had and I said, "more than enough". I was emotionally upset at how this rookie handled our problem. He then went to the property manager to tell that he smelled ammonia (which was a lie) and they told him that we were good people and have never had a problem with us. Than he calls the Chief of Police and that's when I found out that we were only allowed to have three pets; although, our landlord had taken a pet deposit for six pets thirteen years ago. However, thirteen years ago I never read the lease (my fault) and covered himself up by saying we were allowed to have two outside dogs which we never had. Do I have to give up my extra dogs which have never caused any trouble? I never told the chief of police how many I have. I asked off the record and agreed and I told him that I wouldn't comply to that ordinance, but on the record I would. What are my rights?
04/27/2009   |   Category: Animals   |   State: Texas   |   #16217

Answer:

The answer depends on the regulations or covenants apply. The laws governing this issue may include a city ordinance, if you live in a city, a county Law, usually enacted by the Board of Supervisors in your county, or restrictive covenants if you live in a subdivision with restrictive covenants, or lease restrictions contained in your lease. If the limit to three dogs is only contained in your lease, it is possible that this restriction was waived by the knowing acceptance of six dogs on the premises. It will be a matter of subjective determination for the court, based on all the facts and circumstances involved, whether the landlord waived a restriction on pet ownership. It may also be possible to negotiate with the landlord for an amendment to the lease terms.

The type of animals addressed by these laws varies. Some only address dogs and some address wild animals. Others address domestic animals. Some may not address the issue of the number of animals allowed at all. In other words, there may be no limit. You should check these sources that apply to you in your area to obtain the answer. The City of Sanger provides Animal Control services within the City Limits. Animal Control is under the supervision of the Chief of Police. Animal Control can be reached be calling the Police Department at 940-458-7444.

The following are Texas statutes:

§ 822.030 HEALTH & SAFETY. Registration Required; Exception for
Temporary Visits

(a) The owner or person having control of a dog six months of
age or older in a county that has adopted this subchapter must
register the dog not later than the 30th day after the date on
which the proclamation is published or adopted.

(b) A dog brought into a county for not more than 10 days for
breeding purposes, trial, or show is not required to be
registered.

§ 822.031 HEALTH & SAFETY. Unregistered Dogs Prohibited From Running
at Large

The owner or person having control of a dog at least six months
of age in a county adopting this subchapter may not allow the dog
to run at large unless the dog:

(1) is registered under this subchapter with the county in
which the dog runs at large; and

(2) has fastened about its neck a dog identification tag
issued by the county.


§ 822.005 HEALTH & SAFETY. Attack by Dog

(a) A person commits an offense if the person is the owner of a dog and
the person:

(1) with criminal negligence, as defined by Section 6.03, Penal Code,
fails to secure the dog and the dog makes an unprovoked attack on another
person that occurs at a location other than the owner's real property or
in or on the owner's motor vehicle or boat and that causes serious bodily
injury, as defined by Section 1.07, Penal Code, or death to the other
person; or

(2) knows the dog is a dangerous dog by learning in a manner described
by Section 822.042(g) that the person is the owner of a dangerous dog,
and the dangerous dog makes an unprovoked attack on another person that
occurs at a location other than a secure enclosure in which the dog is
restrained in accordance with Subchapter D and that causes serious bodily
injury, as defined by Section 822.001, or death to the other person.

(b) An offense under this section is a felony of the third degree
unless the attack causes death, in which event the offense is a felony of
the second degree.

(c) If a person is found guilty of an offense under this section, the
court may order the dog destroyed by a person listed in Section 822.004.

(d) A person who is subject to prosecution under this section and under
any other law may be prosecuted under this section, the other law, or
both.

§ 822.006 HEALTH & SAFETY Defenses

(a) It is a defense to prosecution under Section 822.005(a) that the
person is a veterinarian, a veterinary clinic employee, a peace officer, a
person employed by a recognized animal shelter, or a person employed by
this state or a political subdivision of this state to deal with stray
animals and has temporary ownership, custody, or control of the dog in
connection with that position.

(b) It is a defense to prosecution under Section 822.005(a) that the
person is an employee of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice or a law
enforcement agency and trains or uses dogs for law enforcement or
corrections purposes and is training or using the dog in connection with
the person's official capacity.

(c) It is a defense to prosecution under Section 822.005(a) that the
person is a dog trainer or an employee of a guard dog company under
Chapter 1702, Occupations Code, and has temporary ownership, custody, or
control of the dog in connection with that position.

(d) It is a defense to prosecution under Section 822.005(a) that the
person is disabled and uses the dog to provide assistance, the dog is
trained to provide assistance to a person with a disability, and the
person is using the dog to provide assistance in connection with the
person's disability.

(e) It is a defense to prosecution under Section 822.005(a) that the
person attacked by the dog was at the time of the attack engaged in
conduct prohibited by Chapters 19, 20, 21, 22, 28, 29, and 30, Penal
Code.

(f) It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under
Section 822.005(a) that, at the time of the conduct charged, the person and the
dog are participating in an organized search and rescue effort at the
request of law enforcement.

(g) It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under
Section 822.005(a) that, at the time of the conduct charged, the person and the
dog are participating in an organized dog show or event sponsored by a
nationally recognized or state-recognized kennel club.

(h) It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under
Section 822.005(a) that, at the time of the conduct charged, the person and the
dog are engaged in:

(1) a lawful hunting activity; or

(2) a farming or ranching activity, including herding livestock,
typically performed by a working dog on a farm or ranch.

(i) It is a defense to prosecution under Section 822.005(a) that, at
the time of the conduct charged, the person's dog was on a leash and the
person:

(1) was in immediate control of the dog; or

(2) if the person was not in control of the dog, the person was making
immediate and reasonable attempts to regain control of the dog.

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