Indianapolis, IN asked in Animal / Dog Law for Indiana

Q: If I'm walking my dog on the street and someone's dog not on a leash charges us how am I able to defend myself?

I live in a nice neighborhood however, several times when walking my dog we've come across countless unrestrained dogs in my neighbors yards (not strays) they run up to us barking and almost if biting at us. Is it illegal for me to defend myself with some form of pepper spray/gun?

Related Topics:
1 Lawyer Answer
Charles Candiano
Charles Candiano
  • Chicago, IL
  • Licensed in Indiana

A: You don't provide enough details for a definitive answer. On your facts, the other dogs bark at you and your dog. As long as the other dogs stay on their property, there is nothing that you can do. Some dogs are extremely territorial. One of my dogs will bark at the "trespasser" if she sees someone walking a dog on the other side of the street, even when she is in the house. You would think she would rip you to shreds. In truth, if you held out your hand, she would lick it. I am not telling you to stick out your hand to the dogs were barking at you but on your facts, you have had multiple encounters with these dogs and none of those encounters resulted in injury to you or your dog. Nor did any of those encounters require you to "defend" yourself.

In the entire state of Indiana, it is illegal to have an unrestrained animal. Dogs cannot be off-leash unless they are on private property. If one or more of your neighbors' dogs is unleashed and it leaves the owner's property to bark at you/scare you, you can and should call the police and make a report. Doing that accomplishes two things. One, it gives the dog's owner an opportunity to restrain the dog and two, it places the dog's owner on notice.

There is no reason for you to feel unsafe walking your dog on public property. There is also no reason to resort to vigilantism as a first resort.

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.