City Pet Law

Both New York City and New York State have laws which pertain to your dog. Here are the most important ones to ensure you are aware of (always consult an attorney or the city for the latest official legal advice on these topics):

  • Dog License (Health Code § 161.04): According to the City website, “New York State law requires that all owned dogs be licensed and the New York City Health Code §161.04 require every dog owner to have a dog license tag attached to their dog’s collar while in public. Dog owners may be fined for violation of these laws.” Remember you both need to license your dog AND make sure your dog’s license is on its collar. You can complete or renew an application at
  • Leash Law (Health Code § 161.05): In New York City, all dogs must be restrained by a leash or chain not more than six feet in length when the animal is in a public place (except in designated off leash areas).
  • Canine Waste Law (Health Code § 161.03): Section 1310 of the New York State Public Health Code states that “it shall be the duty of each dog owner or person having possession, custody or control of a  dog  to remove  any feces  left  by his or her dog on any sidewalk, gutter, street or other public area.”
  • Vicious or dangerous animals (Health Code § 161.07): The definition here is a bit broad, but a dog is potentially considered vicious or dangerous if it “menaces, threatens, attacks or bites a person” according to the New York City Health Code section on animals. It is also presumed that if a dog is vicious or dangerous, it is because the owner caused or permitted the animal to be vicious or dangerous,
  • Rabies Vaccination (Health Code § 161.06): According to the New York State Health Department website, State law requires rabies vaccinations for all dogs (and cats too). Note that if your dog bites someone, it’s likely to be quarantined at your expense if you don’t have your rabies paperwork. Here are two good documents on rabies in New York City and New York State.
  • Restaurants and Dogs (NYC Dept of Health Code §81.25): The NYC Department of Health states that “Food service establishments and non-retail food processing establishments; animals prohibited. No live animal shall be kept, housed or permitted to enter into or remain in any food service establishment or non-retail food processing establishment. This section shall not apply to edible fish, crustacea, shellfish, fish in aquariums, seeing-eye dogs accompanying sightless persons, hearing or service dogs accompanying and assisting disabled persons, or patrol dogs accompanying police officers.”

The New York City parks also have their own rules regarding dogs. You can view them at