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California's Dog Bite Laws and Regulations by County

Dog bite lawyer John Bisnar presents legal information on California dog bite laws. If you've been bitten by a dog please contact our office for a free consultation. Call 1-800-561-4887.

The laws pertaining to dog attacks and dog bites comprise civil, criminal and administrative laws. Civil laws provide victims the opportunity to seek monetary compensation while criminal laws impose punishments on the dog owner, and administrative laws provide for a remedy against the dog itself - typically euthanization. These laws (if in place at all) vary by city, county and state. As the incidence of dog bites and attacks increases, more local communities are putting dangerous dog laws in place, providing protection and legal recourse for an increasing number of victims.

Some counties have regulations, punishments and fines pertaining to dogs that are deemed vicious or dangerous. We have included the county laws for all of Southern California's counties:

The following is the text of California's dog bite law or what is commonly referred to as the "strict liability statute":

Calif. Civil Code § 3342.

  1. The owner of any dog is liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner's knowledge of such viciousness. A person is lawfully upon the private property of such owner within the meaning of this section when he is on such property in the performance of any duty imposed upon him by the laws of this state or by the laws or postal regulations of the United States, or when he is on such property upon the invitation, express or implied, of the owner.
  2. Nothing in this section shall authorize the bringing of an action pursuant to subdivision (a) against any governmental agency using a dog in military or police work if the bite or bites occurred while the dog was defending itself from an annoying, harassing, or provoking act, or assisting an employee of the agency in any of the following:
    • In the apprehension or holding of a suspect where the employee has a reasonable suspicion of the suspect's involvement in criminal activity.
    • In the investigation of a crime or possible crime.
    • In the execution of a warrant.
    • In the defense of a peace officer or another person.

Subdivision (b) shall not apply in any case where the victim of the bite or bites was not a party to, nor a participant in, nor suspected to be a party to or a participant in, the act or acts that prompted the use of the dog in the military or police work.

Subdivision (b) shall apply only where a governmental agency using a dog in military or police work has adopted a written policy on the necessary and appropriate use of a dog for the police or military work enumerated in subdivision (b).

Calif. Civil Code § 3342.5

  1. The owner of any dog that has bitten a human being shall have the duty to take such reasonable steps as are necessary to remove any danger presented to other persons from bites by the animal.
  2. Whenever a dog has bitten a human being on at least two separate occasions, any person, the district attorney, or city attorney may bring an action against the owner of the animal to determine whether conditions of the treatment or confinement of the dog or other circumstances existing at the time of the bites have been changed so as to remove the danger to other persons presented by the animal. This action shall be brought in the county where a bite occurred. The court, after hearing, may make any order it deems appropriate to prevent the recurrence of such an incident, including, but not limited to, the removal of the animal from the area or its destruction if necessary.
  3. Whenever a dog trained to fight, attack, or kill has bitten a human being, causing substantial physical injury, any person, including the district attorney, or city attorney may bring an action against the owner of the animal to determine whether conditions of the treatment or confinement of the dog or other circumstances existing at the time of the bites have been changed so as to remove the danger to other persons presented by the animal. This action shall be brought in the county where a bite occurred. The court, after hearing, may make any order it deems appropriate to prevent the recurrence of such an incident, including, but not limited to, the removal of the animal from the area or its destruction if necessary.
  4. Nothing in this section shall authorize the bringing of an action pursuant to subdivision (b) based on a bite or bites inflicted upon a trespasser, or by a dog used in military or police work if the bite or bites occurred while the dog was actually performing in that capacity.
  5. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent legislation in the field of dog control by any city, county, or city and county.
  6. Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect the liability of the owner of a dog under Section 3342 or any other provision of the law.
  7. A proceeding under this section is a limited civil case.

Protecting Your Rights

California is one of several states that has a "strict liability statute" when it comes to dog attacks. This means that dog owners are financially responsible for compensating injured victims for the damages and losses caused by their pets. Injured victims may be entitled to damages including but not limited to medical expenses, hospitalization and surgery costs, pain and suffering and emotional distress. The knowledgeable California dog bite lawyers at Bisnar Chase understand the physical, emotional and financial repercussions a dog attack can cause for victims and their families. Please contact us to obtain more information about pursuing your legal rights.


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Client Reviews of Bisnar Chase

“INTEGRITY, CONFIDENCE AND THOROUGHNESS-THIS FIRM IS AMAZING! when my German Shepherd was falsely accused of biting a child, I thought, who better than the best personal injury attorney out there to ask for advise? Researched best attorneys in OC for dog bites, and was directed to the law firm of Bisnar and Chase. To say I was astounded at the depth of the response I received to my online enquiry is an understatement.
Upfront they said they weren't defense attorneys, but (after winning numerous severe dog bite cases over the years) they took the time to line item their opinion of how events would unfold (putting my mind at ease). In this day and age, the fact they took the time out of their busy day to respond so thoroughly to a cry for help ( inwhich they had absolutely nothing to gain), speaks volumns about the integrity of this firm. I wouldn't hesitate to use them, or refer them.”

by Stephanie C.

reviewed at Yelp

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