My neighbor has a massive German Shepard. Every time I walk past their property with my terrier, and sometimes when I'm in lot and alley behind the neighboring apartment buildings, their dog leaps up, barks like crazy, and then starts throwing itself against the fence or the transparent glass door. (I regretfully don't mean pawing so much as outright slamming.) The first forty or so times this occured my dog just stared at me like she couldn't figure out what the heck was going on, but now she barks right back and tries to charge him, even though her body is just a little bigger than his head. All this makes me very nervous.

The owner sometimes lets their dog off leash in the back alley. I know this is illegal, but don't know what to do about it because I rarely catch them at it, and she's never let offleash for more than ten minutes. Today, as I was passing the fence, their dog managed to shove their whole head and neck through the space underneath it and take a snap at my dog's legs. I heard my neighbor call "bad dog" once from a distance and then do nothing.

I would like to ...

  • Ensure that the neighbor's dog is never off-leash in the back alley again.
  • Get it home to my neighbor that this is a serious thing that requires their attention.

If there was a way to insist she not be left unattended or off a lead in the front lawn (as the fence is clearly not foolproof) that would be ideal, but I'll take what I can get.

I live in Chicago. I've considered contacting animal control, but don't know what my rights are or if I should prepare evidence (photo? testimony?). I've also considered talking to my neighbor, and probably will, though I get a strong sense from him that this would go nowhere without a good sense how to approach him and my other options. Thanks for your time.

1 Answer 1


The applicable law is here. Any animal that crosses its owner's property line in the slightest must be restrained. Chicago law also requires fences to be physical fences, not electronic ones. So you can report the situation to the police. This may or may not result in a fine for the owner: that's at the discretion of the city. From a legal perspective, reporting violations to the police and to animal control is almost all you can do. There is, unfortunately, no guarantee that the police will investigate; but if that is not satisfactory, there are political solutions involving your alderman. Theoretically, you could sue the owner, but that would be expensive and probably less effective compared to reporting the violation.

  • 2
    Shorter answer: It is very hard to do anything until something bad happens. A written letter to the neighbor (with a copy saved for yourself) explaining the issue in detail would help establish negligence or recklessness if something did happen, however.
    – ohwilleke
    Aug 14, 2018 at 1:42

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