Sterlington residents and police are cautioning pet owners on the importance of following the leash law following a recent accident caused by a free roaming pet.

According to LA R.S. 3:2771, no person shall suffer or permit any dog in his possession, or kept by him about his premises, to run at large on any unenclosed land or trespass upon any enclosed or unenclosed lands of another.

“I'd say the importance [of the law] is multi-faceted,” Police Chief Barry Bonner said. “Most important is the safety of the animal. Second is the safety of the public.”

This past weekend, Assistant Police Chief Jerre Hurst was injured in a motorcycle accident after a dog ran out in front of him on a residential street. According to Hurst's wife Joyce Hurst, the owner of the dog was issued a citation for leash law violation.

“Anyone caught violating leash law will be issued a citation,” Bonner said. For first offense, pet owners will pay a fine of around $100, and for the second offense, the fine goes up. The cost of the fine is dependent on a judge. According to Bonner, pet owners are not cited unless police can determine that the owner intentionally did not have the animal secured and that the animal didn't just jump the fence. Bonner also added that dogs aren't the only animals that need to be on a leash; cats are also subject to leash law and owner can be cited for violations.

“If people care about their animals, love their animals, like I know most people love their animals like they love their children,” Bonner said. “You wouldn't just let your children wander around. If you love your animals, you need to take care of them and make sure that your animals are properly fed, watered and secured.”