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What can California authorities do about a dangerous dog?

by | Feb 13, 2023 | Dog Bites

Most Sacramento dog owners train their pets to behave themselves around adults and children they meet while out for a walk or playing in the park. But some dogs are aggressive and unpredictable by temperament. Then there are owners who fail to take reasonable steps, like training their dog to obey commands, use a leash or erect a solid fence around their yard, to keep the public safe.

However it happens, dangerous dogs live in Sacramento and throughout California. Neighbors often fear walking past where the dog lives, especially if it has attacked people before. Sadly, the effects of a dog bite attack can be permanent, especially if the victim is a child. Must entire neighborhoods live in fear, wondering who will be a dangerous dog’s next victim?

No free reign for dogs that attack humans

The answer is no. California law allows local police and animal control authorities to designate dogs with a history of biting or attacking humans as one of two categories: potentially dangerous and vicious.

  • A “potentially dangerous” dog is one that injured someone by biting them, injured or killed another domesticated animal while off its own property at least twice in the past 36 months, or required a person to “take defensive action to prevent bodily harm” at least twice in 36 months.
  • A “vicious” dog is one that aggressively killed or severely injured someone without provocation, was previously designated “potentially dangerous,” but its owner failed to comply with the law, or was seized by authorities from an owner who was eventually convicted of participating in dog fighting.

If, following a hearing, a dog is found to be potentially dangerous, its owner must follow specific guidelines, such as never walking it in public without a leash and otherwise keeping it indoors or within a fenced yard. That designation lasts three years unless the owner can show that its behavior has improved.

After determining that a dog is vicious, the authorities can order the dog euthanized. If animal control does not order the dog to be put down, it will impose strict rules on the owner to keep it away from situations where it might attack.

Compensation for dog bite injuries

Getting a dangerous animal off the streets is only part of the solution after it injures you or your child. You still likely face expensive medical bills and, possibly, a lifetime with disfiguring scars. Litigation could be the only way the dog’s owner will be held responsible for their negligence.