Leash Law and Tethering


The City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County have strict leash laws that apply to all animals except cats (see the nuisance animal section for laws pertaining to cats).

Animals must be on a leash, contained within a fence or an operable and marked invisible fence. The invisible fence company should give owners a sign to place at the mailbox to indicate that there is an invisible fence present.

An animal may be loose in its own yard if there is an adult (18 years or older) immediately next to the animal and the animal responds to direct verbal commands of the person.

ALL dog owners that take their dogs for walks in their neighborhoods and/or in public parks (not designated as a dog park) are required to keep their dogs on leash and under physical restraint at ALL TIMES.  Please note that having the leash in your possession and not attached to the dog is not considered having the dog on a leash and you will still be subject to a fine. 

All regulations aim to protect the health and safety of our citizens. Please be a responsible pet owner and abide by the law. Violations will be investigated, and stiff fines may be applied. Fines range from a $50.00 citation for the first violation and up to a $500.00 citation and permanent seizure of the animal for a fifth violation.

To report an animal at large, please call 311 or 704-336-7600. Please note that it could take up to 4 hours for an officer to respond. Any information about where the owner lives would help greatly.

There are dog parks in Char-Meck that will allow pet owners to let their dogs off-leash in a fenced in and controlled area. To find where these parks are located and the rules for participation, visit the Dog Parks page.



An ideal environment for your dog may be a fenced or sheltered area that offers him or her the opportunity to roam and play safely. However, if you must restrain your pet, learn these new "tricks" that are part of the City's new pet restraint ordinance to keep your dog free from injury.

  • Use a chain or runner that is a minimum of 10 ft. long. 

  • Ensure the chain doesn't exceed 10% of the dog's total weight. 

  • Ensure all harnesses and collars fit properly. You should be able to fit two fingers snugly between the pet and collar. 

  • Use swivel hardware to prevent tangles. 

  • Clear the pet's area from obstructions to ensure the dog doesn't become entangled.

In addition to these new guidelines, check on your dog routinely to monitor the animal's well-being. Following these tips ensures a sound quality of life for your pet. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a tether?
A tether is used to confine a dog to its owner’s property and consists of plastic-coated cable or chain attached to a permanent object. 
Tethering as a practice is affixing your dog to the chain or cable device or a pulley runner system that will confine a dog on your property.
What is the most important thing to remember about the ordinance?
That while an ideal environment for your dog may be a fenced or sheltered area that offers him or her the opportunity to roam and play safely, if you must restrain your pet, following these regulations will protect a dog’s quality of life. 
Additionally, it is easy and affordable to become compliant with the new rules.

When does this new ordinance take effect?
March 1st, 2011.

Is there a fine if I don't comply with the new ordinance?
Education is the first priority. Officers will educate you about the ordinance and how to come into compliance before issuing any civil citations. If you do not comply, the first citation is $50 dollars and will continue to escalate from there.