2006_08_ask_dogs.jpgWhat's the deal about dogs in apartments? I know that there is a public leash law - but does that apply to apartment building common spaces, like the lobby/hallways etc? Asking cuz my neighbors have some
noisy pitbulls known for chomping on body parts. Occasionally they let 'em run around the hallways and up and down the stairs unleashed.

We can speak from experience that seeing pitbulls roaming unattended can be very unnerving. And it is a violation of the New York City Health Code for an owner to allow his or her dog to be off-leash in a public place. New York City Dog Leash Law states that "a person who owns, possesses or controls a dog shall not permit it to be in any public place or in any open or unfenced area abutting on a public place unless the dog is effectively restrained by a leash or chain not more than six feet long." In addition, we would think that this also falls under the Animal Nuisance Law which says that "a person who owns, possesses or controls a dog, cat or other animal shall not permit the animal to commit a nuisance on a sidewalk of any public place, on a floor, wall, stairway or roof of any public or private premises used in common by the public, or on a fence, wall or stairway of a building abutting on a public place." This may address defecating and urinating in public places, we aren't exactly sure what they mean by "nuisance", but from our experience, roaming pitbulls in our hallway equals dog poop in our hallway.

However, as the police informed us, if the dogs do not actually bite you or cause physical harm (other than making you wet yourself), there is nothing that they can do until someone is injured. You should contact the Department of Health which is responsible for enforcing Leash Laws.

In addition to the Leash and Nuisance laws, here are the other main laws dealing with pets in New York City, and violating them can result in fines up to $2,000.

Dog Licensing Your dog(s) must wear a valid metal tag at all times displaying the license obtained from the New York City Department of Health.

Canine waste law ("pooper scooper law" - section 1310 of New York State public health code) You must clean up after your dog on the street.

Rabies vaccination law (11.66. - Rabies: compulsory vaccination) Any cat or dog you own in New York City over three months of age must be immunized against rabies.

To contact the Health Department call (212) 442-1838. To report an incidence of cruelty to animals call the ASPCA at (212) 876-7700.