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Iowa City’s local dog laws helped ensure our dogs’ safety


The temperature is supposed to be between 20 and 30 degrees all this next week, which means that Iowa City’s Thornberry Dog Park will be a daily event for us. It also is a good opportunity to find the rabies tags that were pulled off a chewed up collar and get a new annual dog park tag.

Since she was old enough to get a park tag, we have taken Elsie to the dog almost daily. She has learned to play with other dogs, interact in a pack setting and take out her energy on tennis balls and other puppies instead of our couch.

But dogs will be dogs. One afternoon another dog began playing to rough and we had to pull them off Elsie, but not before they managed to leave a tooth puncture in her front leg.

Iowa City requires dogs to have a dog park tag to go to any city dog park, which includes Thornberry and Rita’s Ranch Dog Park, 640 S. Scott Blvd.

Because of this city ordinance, we were able to note the dog’s park tag numbers and contact the city parks and recreation department. They used the owner’s forms to verify with the dog’s veterinarian that the dog was up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations.

And we breathed a huge sigh of relief. Did the dog probably or even possibly have rabies? No, but its a parent thing. We had to know.

Find your local city code and review them completely. Iowa City’s animal related ordinances are found in Title 8: Police Regulation, Ch. 4: Animal Services. They include rules stating:

  • Dogs over the age of four months must be vaccinated against rabies.
  • Dogs over four months must be registered with the city of Iowa City, with proof that they have received a rabies vaccine.
  • Dogs are not allowed on city dog parks without a dog park permit or temporary permit to accompany the city license.
  • Dog’s can not enter private property without having the owner’s permission.
  • Dog’s can not be in restaurants or on outdoor property where food is served, accepting service dogs.
  • Dog’s cannot be tied up on a leash rope, or chain that is less than 10 feet unless their owner is in site.
  • Owner’s must clean up their dog’s waste on public property, and on their private property if for some reason it endangers the health of the animal or public health.

There are more sections regarding dangerous animals, animal neglect and what the local authorities have the right to do, and don’t have the right to do, to ensure the health and safety of you, your dog and your city.

Take some time to look up your local dog ordinances and learn what steps you need to make to be a responsible dog owner.

Read a summary of the Coralville and Iowa City areas animal laws here.

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