Austin Pet Laws You Should Know

Part of owning a pet requires that you take on many responsibilities above and beyond the normal course of feeding, training and veterinary care. While it’s true those are basic needs and  expectations, you’ll also find that different municipalities have important laws and regulations regarding pet care and ownership. To help guide you through the murky waters, we’ve listed some of the most important Austin pet laws that you should know about if you have a dog, cat, or other animal.

Austin’s Leash Law

Nothing is more annoying or carries the dangerous potential of physical and mental trauma to you, an innocent bystander or another animal like an off leash dog roaming loose or charging at you. The dangers of this situation are endless and can carry some pretty costly consequences from fines up to jail time and the distinct possibility of getting sued.

Not only is all of the above 100% preventable by keeping your pet on a leash, but Austin’s leash law requires pet owners to keep their dog on a leash or lead at all times when out in public. No matter how well trained your dog is to stay with you or come when called, the dog must be leashed. In addition, the person who holds the dog is legally required to keep the pet under control and restrained. This means allowing your small child to walk the dog probably isn’t such a good idea to ensure the safety of all people and dogs.

There is however, an exception to this rule: If you and your dog are in a public area where dog restraint is not required, then your dog doesn’t have to be on a leash. This applies to areas such as an off-leash dog park. Once you leave the area though, the leash law will apply again. So be sure that you always have a leash with you when you and your dog are out in public.

We would like to add that although there are no laws dictating a specific type of leash, we highly recommend using no more than a 6 foot length. And please… try to refrain from using those fancy retractable leashes. Retractable leashes are indeed convenient, but not necessarily conducive when faced with an approaching or nearby dog, person or wild animal – making it difficult to rein in your pet resulting in possible injury to all parties involved.

Fencing and Tethering

Have you ever been out walking your dog and decided to make a pit stop at a local convenience store or gas station to pick up a snack, or maybe even a potty call of your own? Since most establishments prohibit dogs inside the building, dog owners will frequently tether their dog to a pole or tree outside while going about their business inside for a few minutes. Sound familiar?

Well in Austin, you will be well informed to know that dog owners may not leave their dogs alone on a chain or a tether – not even for those couple minutes outside a store or gas station. This also means that you cannot rely on a chain or tether to keep your dog secured inside your own yard either. Not only can chaining or tethering your dog to an object cause a potential injury to the pet, but it also restricts their movements in case of an emergency or inclement weather. If you feel it necessary to leave your dog outside for any reason, Austin pet laws require that you fence in your yard.

Even though fencing in a yard is the optimum choice for both you and your pet, putting up a fence can be expensive – depending on how elaborate of a fence you want. That’s why Austin Animal Protection has a fencing assistance program. Dog owners who currently rely on a tether can apply to the program to receive assistance in fencing in their yards. You can also donate fencing materials to the program so that they’ll get to dog owners in need.

Dog Fighting

The topic of dog fighting is near and dear to our hearts here at Bed and Biscuit, as well as for most pet owners. It is cruel and inhumane to the animal and a devastating act to witness to say the very least. Although it should go without saying, we will state it for the record anyway… Dog fighting is illegal in Austin!

Austin pet laws not only strictly prohibit dog and other animal fighting, but they also include, but not limited to:

  • Attending dog fights

  • Betting practices and equipment

  • Promotion of dog fights (and other animals)

  • Training, baiting and sparing of dogs or other animals

  • Possession of dogs or other animals used to fight or bait

  • Possession and use of equipment used in the commission of dog and animal fighting

Every year, thousands of pets and strays throughout the city of Austin and surrounding areas go missing. While Austin Animal Control finds and rescues several on a daily basis, many have fallen to the pray of lurking dognappers with the intent of using them as bait for dog fighting rings. Here in lies another reason to keep your pet leashed or fenced while they are outside.


We all love our furry four legged friends, but it’s no secret the overpopulation of dogs and cats has become a serious problem in both Texas, and the country as well. Texas state law requires that any domestic dog or cat adopted from a public or private operated animal shelter or humane agencies; spay or neuter the pet prior to adoption.

Optionally under written agreement, the owner may have sterilization performed within 30 days of adoption date by a licensed veterinarian. For more information on pet sterilization laws in Austin, please refer to the Texas Health and Safety Code of Animals.

While the staff at Bed and Biscuit of Austin respects the personal decisions of our patrons to purchase their pets from ethical breeders, we do strongly advocate for the adoption and foster of pets from local shelters, the ASPCA or local branches of the Humane Society. By doing so, you can make a positive difference to reduce the homeless pet population while promoting the increase of happy, loving homes for those pets in need.

There are millions of homeless, abandoned and abused pets across this great country sitting in shelters. All of them are in desperate need of food, water, shelter, vet care and a loving place to call home. Through no fault of their own, many have faced euthanization due to overpopulation that has caused the inability to provide the basic need of food, shelter and veterinary care.

By the proper spaying and neutering of dogs and cats, we can maintain a healthy pet population and provide a more hopeful future for these pets. So please, spay and neuter your pet. It not only helps less fortunate pets, it’s the law.

Trading Pets

If you sell pets in Austin, then you’ll want to make sure that you’re very familiar with Austin’s pet trader regulations. Austin strictly prohibits the retail sale of puppies, kittens, dogs, or cats from any location except where the animals were bred.

If a person sells a cat or a dog in Austin, then you are required to have the pet micro-chipped. This benefits both the owner and the pet in the event the pet is lost or stolen. During this process, you will also have to provide the Austin Consumer Information form. Be it known that if the pet has not yet been spayed or neutered, you will need to pay the city a $50 fee.

If you want to learn more about the Austin pet laws, this website has additional information. If you have additional questions, consider calling Austin Animal Protection to get specific answers for your situation.

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