Ask the Attorney: All About Dogs… Part 1



beagle puppy

Question: I live in Los Angeles, and my neighbor’s dog does not stop barking. Can we do anything about this nuisance?

Answer: A barking dog can adversely impact your family’s quality of life. The Los Angeles Municipal Code prohibits a dog owner from allowing his or her animal to emit excessive noise. This is defined as noise that is annoying or unreasonably interferes with the enjoyment of one’s property. Based on this, a barking or whining dog would probably qualify as “excessive noise.” The noise must be continuously audible for more than ten minutes, or intermittently audible for thirty minutes within a three-hour period.

Before the animal’s owner can be compelled to take action, a written complaint must be made to the Los Angeles Animal Care and Control Center servicing your area. To find the Center servicing your area, visit The requirements for filing a complaint are available at

Like most bureaucratic matters, the complaint process can be tedious and might not solve the problem. A good idea might be to politely ask the dog’s owner if he or she can take affirmative steps to control the dog. The owner might not be home when the dog usually misbehaves, and therefore might not be aware of the problem. Nevertheless, if you hear a dog making unusual noise, or you are concerned about the safety of the dog, call 3-1-1 to alert the proper authorities about this problem.

Question: My neighbor has a really hyper dog, and he doesn’t use a leash when he walks him. Is this legal?

Answer: No. As a general rule, the dog owner must attach his dog to a chain or leash that does not exceed six feet in length. There are many designated dog parks throughout the City, and these are the only places where an owner may remove the leash and let the dog run free. The Code provides that violations of this rule can result in fines, but, as you can tell, this rule is not heavily enforced.

As with the above, you can contact your local Animal Care Center to file a complaint about the dog, or visit for more information.

However, using common sense may be the best option. If you are genuinely uncomfortable with this dog approaching you, respectfully ask your neighbor to restrain the dog. If the owner tries to reassure you that the dog is friendly—accept this overture. Politely remind him that the dog should be leashed for its own safety and to prevent it from running into traffic.

Question: My neighbor’s dog uses my lawn as a toilet. That’s definitely illegal, right?

Answer: Right!! It’s one of those inconveniences we all experience from time to time—you or your child walks on the lawn and “steps in it!” Dog owners must clean up after their dogs when in public, and failure to do so can result in a whopping $20.00 fine. As inconvenient as this is, it’s one of those laws that does not attract much attention from law enforcement—and rightfully so. With all the other significant public safety concerns facing our community, police officers must direct their attention to more serious matters!

Stay tuned for next week’s article, where we discuss DOG BITES.

Do you have a general question about legal matters that you’d like answered here in the future? Submit your questions to

Michael Rubinstein is a personal injury attorney in Los Angeles. If you have a personal injury or other legal matter, you are invited to call Michael at 213-293-6075.