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Orange County Dog Bite Laws

If you've been injured from a serious dog bite and need legal advice, contact our experienced dog bite lawyers for a free consultation. You may be entitled to damages. Call 949-203-3814.

Orange County has dangerous dog laws in place in the interest of public safety. The county also has a process in place when a dog has been deemed dangerous. Here are the Orange County laws that pertain to "dangerous" or "vicious" dogs.

Sec. 4-1-95.

Declaration and possession of vicious or potentially dangerous dog.

  1. General Provisions.
    1. If the Director has cause to believe that a dog is a "vicious dog or potentially dangerous dog" within the meaning of section 4-1-23, he or she may tentatively find and declare such dog a "vicious dog or potentially dangerous dog."
    2. Upon tentatively finding and declaring that a dog is a "vicious dog or potentially dangerous dog," the Director shall notify the owner and/or custodian in writing of his or her tentative finding and declaration.
    3. The notice shall inform the owner and/or custodian of such dog that he or she may request a hearing in writing before the Director within five (5) working days of receipt of such notice to contest the tentative finding and declaration. Any such hearing shall be requested and conducted as provided in subsection (d) of this section.
    4. Failure of the owner and/or custodian to request a hearing pursuant to subsection (a)(3) of this section shall result in the declaration becoming final.
    5. The possession or maintenance of a "vicious dog or potentially dangerous dog," or the allowing of any such dog to be in contravention of this division, is hereby declared to be a public nuisance. The director is hereby authorized and empowered to impound and/or abate any "vicious dog or potentially dangerous dog" independently of any criminal prosecution or the results thereof by any means reasonably necessary to ensure the health, safety and welfare of the public, including, but not limited to, the destruction of the dog or by the imposition upon the owner and/or custodian of specific reasonable restrictions and conditions for the maintenance of the dog. The restrictions and conditions may include but are not limited to:
      1. Obtaining and maintaining liability insurance in the amount of one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000.00) against bodily injury or death or damage to property and furnishing a certificate or proof of insurance by which the Director shall be notified at least ten (10) days prior to cancellation or nonrenewal or, at the owner's or custodian's option, the filing with the Director of proof of a bond in the amount of one hundred thousand dollars (100,000.00), to be able to respond in damages.
      2. Requirements as to size, construction and design of the dog's enclosure.
      3. Location of the dog's residence.
      4. Requirements as to type and method of restraints and/or muzzling of the dog.
      5. Photo identification or permanent marking of the dog for purposes of identification.
      6. Requirements as to the posting of a warning notice or notices conspicuous to the public warning persons of the presence of a vicious dog.
      7. Payment of a fee or fees as established by resolution of the Board of Supervisors to recover the costs of enforcing the provisions of [this] article 6, division 1 of title 4 of this Code as applied to the regulation of vicious dogs.
  2. Notification of Right to Hearing. At least five (5) working days prior to impoundment and/or abatement, the owner or custodian shall be notified in writing of his or her right to request a hearing in writing to determine whether grounds exist for such impoundment and/or abatement. If a hearing is requested, the impoundment and/or abatement hearing may be held in conjunction with the hearing provided for in subsection (a) of this section. If the owner or custodian requests a hearing prior to impoundment and/or abatement, no impoundment and/or abatement shall take place pending decision by the Director following a hearing, except as provided in subsection (c) of this section. Pending such impoundment and/or abatement hearing and decision by the Director, the Director may order the owner or custodian to keep the dog within a substantial enclosure or securely attached to a chain or other type of control which the Director may deem necessary under the circumstances. The Director may also order the owner or custodian to post and keep posted upon the premises where such dog is kept under restraint, a warning notice pending such impoundment and/or abatement hearing and decision by the Director. The form, content and display of such notice shall be specified by the Director. Any hearing under this subsection shall be conducted in accordance with subsection (d) of this section.
  3. Immediate Impoundment. When, in the opinion of the Director, immediate impoundment is necessary for the preservation of animal or public health, safety or welfare, or if the dog has been impounded under other provisions of this Code or State law, the preimpoundment hearing shall not be required; however, the owner or custodian shall be given written notice allowing five (5) working days from receipt of such notice to request in writing an abatement hearing. If requested, a hearing shall be held within five (5) working days of receipt of the request by the Director and the dog shall not be disposed of prior to the decision of the Director following such hearing. A hearing under this subsection shall be conducted in accordance with subsection (d) of this section except as otherwise indicated. If, after five (5) working days following receipt of such notice, no written request for a hearing is received from the owner or custodian, the dog in question shall be disposed of under applicable provisions of law.
  4. Request for and Conduct of Hearings. Except as otherwise provided in subsection (c) of this section, the Director shall conduct a hearing within fifteen (15) days following receipt of a written request from the owner or custodian requesting a hearing under this section, and notice of the time, date and place thereof shall be mailed to the person requesting the hearing at the address given in the hearing request, at least ten (10) days prior to said hearing. The Director may appoint a hearing officer to take evidence, summarize the evidence presented and report his or her findings and recommendations based on such evidence to the Director, or the Director may personally conduct the hearing.

At the hearing each party shall have the right to call and examine witnesses, to introduce exhibits, to cross-examine opposing witnesses, impeach any witness, and to rebut the evidence against him or her. The hearing need not be conducted according to technical rules relating to evidence and witnesses. Any relevant evidence shall be admitted if it is the sort of evidence on which responsible persons are accustomed to rely in the conduct of serious affairs, regardless of the existence of any common law or statutory rule which might make improper the admission of such evidence over objection in civil actions. The rules of privilege shall be effective to the same extent that they are now or hereafter may be recognized in civil actions, and irrelevant or unduly repetitious evidence shall be excluded.

Within fifteen (15) days following the conclusion of the hearing, the Director shall determine, on all the evidence presented to him or her, or on the summary of evidence and findings of fact and recommendations of the person holding the hearing, whether any designation, impoundment and/or abatement under this section should be rescinded or amended. Within five (5) working days following such decision, the Director shall notify in writing the person requesting the hearing of his or her determination as to any issue as to which the hearing was requested.

  1. Change of Circumstances. In the event of changed circumstances, the Director may amend or rescind any abatement and/or impoundment imposed pursuant to subsection (a)(5) of this section. Any such revision to the abatement and/or impoundment due to changed circumstances shall be subject to the same notice, hearing and other procedural requirements as required for imposing an initial abatement and/or impoundment set forth in subsections (b), (c) and (d) of this section.
  2. Change of Ownership, Custody and/or Residence. Owners of a vicious dog or potentially dangerous dog who sell or otherwise transfer the ownership, custody or residence of the dog shall at least ten (10) days prior to the sale or transfer, inform the Director in writing of the name, address and telephone number of the new owner, custodian and/or residence and the name and description of the dog. The owner shall, in addition, notify the new owner or custodian in writing of the details of the dog's record, terms and conditions of maintenance and provide the Director with a copy thereof containing an acknowledgment by the new owner or custodian of his or her receipt of the original. The Director shall notify the new owner or custodian in writing of any different or additional restrictions or conditions imposed pursuant to subsection (a)(5) of this section as a result of the change of ownership, custody or residence. The imposition of any such different or additional restrictions or conditions shall be subject to the same notice, hearing and other procedural requirements as required for imposing an initial abatement and/or impoundment set forth in subsections (b), (c) and (d) of this section.
  3. Possession Unlawful. It is unlawful to have custody of, own or possess a vicious dog or potentially dangerous dog within the meaning of section 4-1-23 unless it is restrained, confined or muzzled so that it cannot bite, attack or cause injury to any person.
  4. Declared Vicious Dog or Potentially Dangerous Dog. It shall be unlawful for the owner and/or custodian of a dog declared vicious or potentially dangerous pursuant to subsection (a) to fail to comply with any requirements or conditions imposed pursuant to subsection (a)(5) of this section. If a vicious or potentially dangerous dog escapes, the owner and/or custodian shall immediately notify the Director and make every reasonable effort to recapture it.

The Director shall have the discretion, in any event, to directly petition the court to seek a determination whether or not the dog in question should be declared potentially dangerous or vicious. The Director shall follow the procedures set forth in Food and Agriculture Code Sections 31621 and following for this purpose.

Contacting an Experienced Dog Bite Lawyer

If you or a loved one has been injured in a dog attack, the experienced Orange County dog bite lawyers at Bisnar Chase can help you better understand your legal rights and options. Injured dog bite victims may be entitled to compensation for damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, hospitalization, cost of physical and psychological therapy, pain and suffering and emotional distress.


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