Indiana Pet Dog Containment Laws

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Dog owners in Indiana should remain mindful of both state and local laws protecting their pets.
Dog owners in Indiana should remain mindful of both state and local laws protecting their pets. (Image: dogs image by muro from Fotolia.com)

The inter-species friendship of human and canine has flourished for many centuries. Today, residents of Indiana treasure their dogs as pets for various practical reasons, ranging from simple companionship to farming and livestock control. But whether dachshund or basset hound, pit bull or golden retriever, pet dogs are covered by a slew of laws designed to ensure their health and protection. In addition to laws on the books for the state of Indiana, individual municipalities expound with further regulations to protect dogs. In many cases, these laws also apply to other types of animals, including cats, horses, sheep and cattle.

State Animal Law Overview

Formal Indiana state laws and regulations regarding animal containment, which involves methods of restraining or controlling the activity of your pet, do not exist. However, many state laws describe important details protecting dogs and other animals from abuse that reflect upon the conditions of their containment. These offenses--which include abandonment, neglect, torture, cruelty, killing and animal fighting--range in seriousness from simple infractions to misdemeanors or felonies.

Abandonment and Neglect

According to Indiana Code 35-46-3-7, dog owners cannot purposefully abandon or neglect their pet. The legal definitions of abandonment and neglect are highly nuanced, but for the purposes of containment, you cannot permanently leave your dog if you don't provide for its long-term care, such as adequate food or drink.

When tying up your dog outside, Indiana Code says it cannot be restrained "for more than a brief period" in any way that would pose a serious danger to its health. In addition, a rope or chain used to restrain your dog must be at least three times its length from nose to tail.

Furthermore, allowing your dog to be exposed to unreasonable heat or cold is illegal if you don't provide shade or other means to control the temperature, such as pet housing or blankets. If a dog's life or health is in danger, you are obligated to provide or seek care.

Torture, Cruelty and Killing

Indiana Code 35-46-3-12 contains laws against the torture and abuse of dogs and other animals, whether or not an animal is owned by the person committing the offenses. Exclusions are made to these laws if a person is acting to reasonably discipline or train a dog. You may not "unnecessarily or cruelly strike an animal," per Indiana Code, and you may not injure a dog by throwing or pushing it against another object. In addition, torture laws make it illegal to intentionally expose a dog to poison to cause pain. If the well-being of another person or personal property is not at stake, you are not allowed to intentionally kill a dog without the permission of the dog's owner.

Animal Fighting

Five separate regulations within the Indiana Code make it unlawful to participate in the activity of animal fighting contests. Under these laws, you are not allowed to buy, trade or sell dogs for the purpose of fighting. Additionally, you may not promote or attend a fighting contest, and the ownership of "animal fighting paraphernalia" is also illegal if you intend to use it at a fighting contest, according to the Indiana Code.

Municipal Laws Regarding Containment

Additional regulations protecting dogs in Indiana are passed by individual cities or counties. One specific example of a local law regarding the containment of dogs makes it illegal in Indianapolis to leave your dog unattended in a car or truck if the temperature and other conditions would pose a serious health risk. Another regulation in South Bend says you cannot confine your dog forcing it to "stand, sit or lie in its own excrement." For specific laws that apply in your town, consult the Indiana Municipal Laws Directory (see Resources).

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