Massachusetts and New Hampshire do not have a statewide leash law. Instead, municipalities and other governments make laws related to dog restraint, control, and leashing. However, leashes are required in some areas, and there are a number of other laws related to leashing and tethering dogs. To get a sense of the requirements, take a look at these specifics.
Different towns have different leash laws. For instance, in Salem, the law says that dogs need to be on a leash of an appropriate length. The exact length is left to the discretion of the owner. In contrast, in Andover, MA, dogs must be firmly held on a leash that is six feet or less in length. On the owner’s property, the dog must be under the owner’s control, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be on a leash.
Based on Section 174B, dogs must be restrained while at rest areas near public highways. If owners need to let their dogs run off some steam, they should walk them around while on a leash, or they should look for a designated dog park. At the time of writing, the fine for breaking this law is $100. Keep in mind that the law specifically says leash or chain. As a result, owners may be cited if they are just using a rope or something that is not a proper leash.
Dogs with special jobs may need special leashes to identify them. For instance, people who train hearing dogs need to obtain a license from the Director of the Office of Deafness for their dogs, and they must also provide the name and address of the clients who receive hearing assistance dogs. To ensure hearing dogs are easily identifiable, they must wear a bright colored collar and leash.
When a dog is around someone who is partially or completely visually impaired, the dog must be restrained with a leash on both public and private walkways and roadways. Often, dog owners identify the visually impaired by their white canes or their guide dogs, but these individuals are not required to have either of those items with them. Additionally, the courts cannot assign comparative negligence to a blind person for not having those items.
To explain, imagine that someone is walking their dog without a leash. When they encounter a blind individual, the dog runs forward and trips the blind person. If the blind person takes the dog owner to court, the defendant cannot argue that the blind person contributed to the injury by not identifying themselves with a cane or a guide dog.
The state has over 200,000 acres of wild areas, and traditionally, many dog owners let their dogs roam unleashed in these areas. As of 2018, the state requires dogs to be on leashes in state wildlife management areas. Dogs involved in hunting or training are exempt from the rule.
Note that this only applies to state managed areas. It doesn’t necessarily apply to wildlife areas managed by the federal government, but to be on the safe side, owners should always check the rules before taking their dogs to any natural areas.
The law also has strict guidelines on tethering dogs. If you tether your dog, you need to make sure that they can’t leave the property while on the tether. Legally, you cannot tether a dog for more than 5 hours in a row in any 24-hour period. That includes tethering a dog to any stationary object including poles, dog houses, and trees. You are also not allowed to tether dogs outside for longer than 15 minutes between 10:00 pm and 6:00 am. Dogs under six months old cannot ever be tethered outside.
You also have to ensure that the tether weighs less than an eighth of the dog’s weight. For instance, a small dog who weighs 16 pounds, can’t have a tether that weighs more than two pounds. Additionally, the tether must be designed for dogs. You can’t use logging chains or other makeshift tethers. The tether must be on a swivel so that it doesn’t get tangled, and you can only have one dog per tether. You have to attach the tether to a harness or a collar, and the collar must be loose enough so that you can slip two adult fingers between the dog and the collar.
In New Hampshire, state law doesn’t require dogs to be on leashes. Again, that is left up to municipalities. For instance, in Manchester, NH, owners can’t let dogs run unattended in the city. Dogs must also be on a leash or in a carrier, and their keeper must be old enough and strong enough to keep the dog under control. However, owners don’t have to keep their dogs on a leash if the dog is confined to an automobile. Although New Hampshire doesn’t have leash laws, the state has strict laws about menacing or vicious dogs.
If you have been hurt by an unleashed dog, you may be entitled to compensation. Even if the area where you were attacked does not have a leash law, both New Hampshire and Massachusetts are strict liability states in relation to dog bites, and owners are responsible for their dogs’ actions.
At Mazow | McCullough, PC, we have experience fighting dog bite cases. We have helped clients who have been bitten by unleashed dogs, including a teenager who we helped win a $450,000 settlement after a put bill attacked him and left severe injuries. We want to help you and your family get the justice and financial peace you deserve at this difficult time. To learn more and set up a free case evaluation, contact us today.