Is It Legal To Let Your Dog Poop In Someone’s Yard In Missouri?
I've been an apartment dweller for years and have never had my own property or my own fenced-in yard where my dogs' have been able to do their business.
So my dogs' over the years have always pooped and peed in someone else's yard. Be it my landlord's yard, a neighbor's yard, or grassy areas at various apartment complexes we've lived in. Yet, is it legal to let your dog poop in someone else's yard in Missouri?
It's a question I never really thought about. I mean dogs can't read. So when JJ had to squat and go, he went. He really didn't care about what The State of Missouri or The City of Warrensburg put in the Missouri Statutes or municipal code.
Michigan State University's Animal Legal and Historical Center has a listing of Missouri Statutes related to agriculture and animals which I was able to focus on dogs and cats. There was nothing in these State Statutes that addressed your dog going potty on someone else's private property.
I also found a .pdf from 2004 entitled "Regulation And Control Of Dogs In Missouri Municipalities" on the Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation website. This .pdf is an analysis that discussed the general types of dog ordinances municipalities have in Missouri. In its introduction, it points out that The Missouri General Assembly has granted municipalities broad authority in dog control matters because they felt those were largely local matters.
This manual had a section on cities and towns developing Pooper Scooper laws and contained examples from Kennett and Columbia. Kennett's law in 2004 didn't prohibit dogs from pooping on private property, it just made the animal's owner responsible for picking it up pretty much everywhere except their own property.
Columbia's law in 2004 actually prohibited dog owners from letting their dogs go to the bathroom on any public property, right of way, or any other private property that was not owned or leased by the dog owner. That said, the law also said if the person charged with that violation cleaned up after their dog immediately and disposed of the dog waste appropriately they could use that as a defense to get out of the violation. (The law is still part of the Columbia Municipal Code today.)
That strikes me as funny because you can't always control where you're dog is going to defecate. I lived in one apartment complex where they wanted dogs to do their business out by the property line. It wasn't impossible to get the dog out there to go number 2, but number 1, that was the first thing my dog did when I took her out. Whoops.
So what are some of our local pooper scooper laws here in West Central Missouri?
Sedalia - No defecating on any public property, right of way, or private property not owned or leased by the dog's owner. Fines for violation range from $74.00 to $222.00. However, if the owner cleans up after the dog immediately and disposes of the waste properly they won't be fined. Additionally, working dogs helping the disabled that have a disability that prevents them from immediately cleaning up after their dog also won't be fined.
Warrensburg- Under the section of the Municipal Code 24-17 requiring the use of public sewers, the code says it is unlawful for any person to place, deposit, or permit animal waste to be deposited in any unsanitary manner on public or private property within the city, or jurisdiction of the city. Chapter five of the Municipal Code dealing with animals does not specifically address the issue.
Knob Noster - Knob Noster addresses this under the Damage and Nuisance section of their code under Dog Regulations. Dogs that create unsanitary conditions/property damage can lead to the owner confining the dog to their own property upon written notice from The Mayor, Municipal Judge, City Administrator, or City Marshal. Additionally, the owner can be subject to a fine.
Clinton - Dog waste is not specifically addressed, however, dogs can be deemed a nuisance if they trespass upon any public or private property in such a manner as to damage the property. So, technically, defecating on someone else's property could be handled by animal nuisance laws.
The reality is most municipalities, whether they specifically address the legality of dogs defecating on public or private property in their codes or not, do have a way to hold owners accountable for not picking up after their dogs, or letting their dogs do their business on public or private property that isn't yours.
Additionally, there shouldn't need to be a state law or a municipal code to get you to clean up after your dog. It's really just the neighborly thing to do. I doubt any dog owner is perfect. There's the occasion when you might forget a doggie doo bag. Or your dog is ill and it's impossible to pick up the waste. Or it's bitterly cold. Or there are blizzard-like conditions going on and you just want to get out of the elements. But for the most part, clean up after fido, it's not that hard.