Do dogs have to be leashed in Illinois? Here’s what metro-east cities legally require

If you’ve ever had an unleashed dog approach you at a park in southwestern Illinois, you may have wondered whether it’s legal for the animal to run unrestrained.

Illinois does not have a statewide leash law, but many municipalities have ordinances requiring dogs to be on leash in public unless they are in a designated area for off-leash play.

It’s important to be aware of leash requirements for safety reasons, and also because some municipalities have the authority to seize dogs that are considered to be “at large.” You can check with your local animal control or shelter if you have lost your dog and believe it may have been seized.

If you live in a city that requires dogs to be leashed in public and are looking for alternative ways to exercise your pet, you might consider local dog parks or yard rentals. Another option is to let your dog sniff at the park on a long line, though some municipalities have limits on how long of a leash you can use.

Here’s what to know about leash requirements in a few metro-east cities.

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Metro-east leash ordinances

The city of Belleville has a local ordinance requiring animals to be kept “under restraint.” The city code defines restraint as a leash or a dog that reliably follows its owner’s cues, such as recall. A dog that is within its owner’s property limits is also considered properly restrained.

Collinsville has an ordinance requiring dogs and cats to be restrained by a leash no longer than 12 feet when off the owner’s property.

Edwardsville’s municipal code requires dogs to be on leash at parks, except in designated off-leash areas such as dog parks.

In Swansea, dogs must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet at public parks and public trails.

East St. Louis requires dogs to be under restraint, defined as a leash, tethered where it can’t reach people, enclosed in a fenced yard it can’t escape or inside a home.

The Fairview Heights city code says dogs are considered “at large” unless they are on a leash, in a fence or inside a building or car. On-duty police dogs and service dogs are exempt.

O’Fallon requires dogs to be kept on a leash at all times unless they are on their owner’s property or a designated off-leash area.

Do you have a question about the law in Illinois for our service journalism team? We’d like to hear from you. Fill out our Metro-east Matters form below.