'Love thy neighbor.' Unfortunately, this is one of the Ten Commandments that many Lubbock dog owners tend to ignore.

From excessive barking to loose and aggressive dogs as well as owners not picking up after their pets, City of Lubbock residents aren't winning any awards for 'Pet Owners of the Year.' That's not to say that we don’t have an amazing collection of responsible dog parents who work hard to train and care for their animals. Rather, the bad just seems to outweigh the good most of the time.

For those of us who like to follow the letter of the law and have respect for those around us, there is a bit of good news. Many of these infractions can be reported to and remedied by Lubbock Animal Services.

LAS Director of Operations Steven Greene sat down with us to answer some questions about what the city requires of pet owners and what can be done when people choose to disregard these laws.

Do you have to keep your dog on a leash at all times?

"Yes. All dogs have to be restrained at all times. Restraint can be defined as being physically able to control an animal through the means of a leash, a tether, or a fence. We do enforce that and issue citations for failure to restrain," Greene stated.

Moreover, if you do choose to tether your pet outside, it still needs to be behind a fence. Why? This action ensures the safety of the animal and those passing by.

dog leash
Photo by Dominik Kempf on Unsplash

"If you have a dog tied up in the front yard and kids are walking home from school, their inclination is to go up and pet the dog. It may not be the friendliest dog in the world. [Additionally,] I have actually picked up animals that were just tethered out in the open and had been attacked and killed by other animals because they had no way to get away," Greene said.

It's also important to note that if you intend to tether your dogs or just keep them outside in a fenced area, you need to make sure that they have plenty of clean water, that there is available shelter for each animal, and that weather conditions are ideal. If not, this could land you a citation as well as lead to the possible seizure of the dog.

Do the leash laws apply to my property?

Yes. If the dog is not contained, then you can be fined. This means that you cannot just let your dog roam in the front yard or in your back alleyway. Even if you have them well trained, they can still pose a threat to residents and other animals.

What about dog parks?

"You can have the dogs off leash once you enter the park," but Greene stressed that this only applies to the fenced area. When walking from your car to the gate, the leash must stay on. In addition, he wants residents to remember that you need to supervise your pets once they get inside.

dog park
Photo by Monika Simeonova on Unsplash

"You really need to be mindful of other citizens if your dog is not the best behaved," said Greene. "Whether with other animals or with humans, you need to keep a close eye on them. You also need to stop any negative behavior before it starts or as soon as it starts. You also need to pick up after your pets."

What is the citation with this violation?

"It is a Class C Misdemeanor, which is the equivalent of a speeding ticket," Greene said. What this means is that there is a fine of up to $500 and you will have to show up in court. Failure to appear can result in a warrant for your arrest.

Is failure to pick up after my dog and excessive barking the same type of violation?

Yes. In terms of dog poop, Greene stated that "you're not only required to pick it up. You can be cited if you don't have the means to clean it up as well." This simple action is not only the decent thing to do, but it also helps to prevent the spread of disease.

Furthermore, excessive barking is treated exactly like any other noise violation within city limits. While all dogs bark, Greene notes that if there is nothing provoking the barking and it goes on without stopping for extended periods of time, day or night, it falls under this same type of noise ordinance.

What can I do if my neighbor or their dog isn’t being so neighborly?

"You can either send an email to Lubbock Animal Services at lubbockanimalservices@mylubbock.us or you can call our field operation dispatch at 806-775-3357. You can also come to our front counter here at the shelter or call directly at 806-775-2057. We have somebody answering those phones live from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.," Greene noted. He also urged that folks with a complaint need to leave a detailed message so that they can be sure to get back to them and effectively address the problem.

Is there anything else that you wish Lubbock dog owners would do?

"The biggest things that people need to do are vaccinate for Parvo, Distemper and Bordetella, which is kennel cough, to keep those diseases down in the Lubbock community and then to spay and neuter. We run into so many animals that have a litter of puppies and then they end up in our shelter. These two things would help this community so much," Greene said.

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