Responsible Dog Ownership

UPDATE 10/13/2021: Due to the number of complaints received regarding dog issues, the Swatara Township Police Department selected one Police Officer to receive additional training concerning laws pertaining to dogs and solutions to common dog problems. Cpl. Matt Corby has been very successful in addressing dog complaints since receiving this additional training. He will continue to consult with other officers when dog complaints are received by our Department. Please continue reading below:


The Swatara Township Police Department has received multiple complaints involving dogs running away from their owners or from the properties where they belong. Typically, these dogs have been running towards walkers, runners, and people who are walking their leashed dogs.

There are several laws in place which address the requirements of responsible dog ownership. These laws can be found both in local Ordinances and in the PA Dog Law. The laws are in place not only to protect the dogs themselves, but to protect property and people who are in the general vicinity of the dogs.

At the very least, current laws regarding responsible dog ownership require the dog owner or person in control of the dog to:

  • Maintain control of the dog at all times.
  • Prevent the dog from running loose through Swatara Township.
  • Prevent the dog from leaving your property on its own.
  • Clean up after the dog when it relieves itself on someone else's property.
  • Keep the dog on a 6 foot leash while utilizing Swatara Township Parks.
  • Maintain a license for the dog issued by Dauphin County.

Dogs that are running loose can create serious problems. Not only do they run the risk of being struck by a motorist or causing a crash, but they may also damage another person's property. Even the friendliest dog may bite another dog or a person if it is running loose and is frightened.

Violations of these laws can result in large fines from the police department and/or the state. Civil Lawsuits are also a possibility if your dog causes injury or loss to another person or their property.

We encourage every dog owner to do the right thing by maintaining strict control over their four-legged friends. The Swatara Township Police Department will be proactively looking for violations and will thoroughly investigate each complaint received.

You can follow the links below to learn more about these laws:

Swatara Township Ordinance Concerning Dogs Running at Large

Leash Law in Swatara Township Parks

Pennsylvania's Dog Law

License Your Dog