San Bernardino County Dog Bite Laws
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San Bernardino County officials have reacted to a number of vicious dog attacks in the county in recent years and updated their dangerous dog laws to protect their communities. Here are some of the county ordinances that define "dangerous" and "vicious" dogs and state the procedures that must be followed if a dog attack does occur.
§ 32.0101 Definitions. Potentially Dangerous Animal.
Any animal which, unprovoked, on two separate occasions within any 36-month period, engages in any behavior that requires defensive action by any person to prevent bodily injury, but only if the person and the animal are off the property of the owner or keeper of the animal when the animal behavior occurs;
Any animal, which, unprovoked, bites a person causing a less than severe injury, as defined below in this Subdivision;
Any animal, which, unprovoked, kills, seriously bites or otherwise inflicts or causes injury to a domestic animal, but only if such occurs off the property of the owner or keeper of the attacking animal.
Any animal seized under Penal Code § 599aa (fighting animals) and fighting dogs as provided in Subdivision (a) of Penal Code § 597.5 when there has been a conviction of the owner or keeper of the subject dogs under that subdivision of the Penal Code;
Any animal which, unprovoked, inflicts severe injury on a human being, as such injury is defined above in this Subdivision, or kills a human being;
Any animal previously determined and currently listed as a potentially dangerous animal, which, after its owner or keeper has been notified of this determination, continues the behavior described in the definition of POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS ANIMAL above or is maintained in violation of § 32.1405 of this Code.
§ 32.1404 Authority to Seize Animal Posing Immediate Threat to Public Safety.
If an Animal Control Officer has investigated and determined there exists probable cause to believe an animal poses an immediate and serious threat to the safety of the public, then the Animal Control Officer may seize and impound the animal pending the hearing to be held pursuant to § 32.1403(c). If confinement is not contrary to public safety, the Chief Officer may require the animal to be confined at the owner's or keeper's expense in a kennel or veterinary facility approved by the Animal Care and Control Program.
§ 32.1405 Disposition of Potentially Dangerous or Vicious Animals.
Animal to Be Kept under Control at All Times.
Control While on Owner's or Keeper's Premises. A potentially dangerous or vicious animal, while on the owner's or keeper's property, shall at all times be kept indoors or in an enclosure which shall secure the yard so that the animal cannot escape and children cannot trespass. The enclosure shall be approved by the Animal Care and Control Program and meet the following criteria:
The enclosure shall be constructed to prevent the going in of the public or other animals and the entrance to the enclosure shall be locked at all times while the animal is contained within the enclosure; The enclosure shall be six-sided, consisting of four walls, a cover or roof and a permanent floor to prevent the animal from escaping by either climbing or digging under the wall. If the bottom is not secured to the sides, the sides must be embedded in the ground no less than two feet;
The animal shall be housed pursuant to the provisions of Penal Code § 597t (adequate enclosed area). The minimum dimensions of the enclosure shall measure five feet by ten feet and be of a height which does not restrict the animal's natural movements and which allows the owner or keeper into the enclosure to maintain the animal. The enclosure shall be surrounded by a perimeter fence which prevents the entry of the public onto the property of the owner or keeper but which shall not serve in any part as a primary enclosure for the animal.
Compliance Inspections. As a condition of maintaining a potentially dangerous or vicious animal, its owner or keeper shall allow access to the Animal Care and Control Program to inspect the premises to ensure compliance with the provisions of this Chapter between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. daily. Prior notification of the inspection to the owner or keeper of the potentially dangerous or vicious animal shall not be required.
Control When Off Owner's or Keeper's Premises. At all times, when a potentially dangerous or vicious animal is not on the premises of the owner or keeper, the animal shall be securely muzzled and restrained by a leash. The animal shall also be under the control of a person 18 years of age or older, who is physically capable of restraining the animal.
Warning Notice. The owner or keeper of the animal shall display, in a prominent place upon the premises where the animal is kept or maintained, a sign easily readable by the public using the words "DANGEROUS ANIMAL," or "VICIOUS ANIMAL," as ordered by the Chief Officer or Health Officer after a hearing or hearings pursuant to § 32.1403, in letters at least two inches in height. Permanent Identification of Animal. The owner or keeper of the animal shall provide a permanent identification by means of either a registered tattoo or implanted microchip that shall be registered with the Animal Care and Control Program. A photograph of the animal shall be kept on record for identification, in addition to registration as a dangerous animal or vicious animal.
Notice of Change of Location or Death of Animal. If an animal determined to be potentially dangerous or vicious dies, is sold, transferred or permanently removed from the County, the owner or keeper shall notify the Chief Officer of the changed condition(s) and new location of the animal in writing within two working days of the changed status.
Animals determined to be potentially dangerous or vicious may be relocated to other premises within the County only upon written notification to the Animal Care and Control Program a minimum of five working days in advance of the animal being physically transferred to new premises. Such physical transfer requires the inspection and approval by an Animal Control Officer of the new premises enclosure and perimeter fencing for compliance with § 32.1405.
Licensing and Vaccination. All potentially dangerous and vicious dogs shall be licensed and vaccinated in accordance with Chapter 2 of Title 3 of the County Code. The potentially dangerous or vicious dog designation shall be included in the license records of the dog. A potentially dangerous or vicious dog fee shall be charged in addition to the regular licensing fee to provide for the increased costs of maintaining the records of the dog pursuant to San Bernardino County Code Schedule of Fees.
Designated Potentially Dangerous and Vicious Animal Listing. All animals designated potentially dangerous or vicious shall be recorded on a listing maintained by the Animal Care and Control Program. Animals designated potentially dangerous or vicious shall remain on the listing until the animal dies, is permanently removed from the County, or is removed from designation pursuant to § 32.1406.
§ 2.1406 Removal of Designation as Potentially Dangerous or Vicious.
If the owner or keeper demonstrates changes that mitigate the risk to public safety to the satisfaction of the Chief Officer, the designation of potentially dangerous or vicious shall be removed.
§ 32.1407 Conditions for Destroying Animal Found Vicious or Potentially Dangerous.
An animal determined to be a vicious or potentially dangerous animal may be destroyed by the Animal Care and Control Program when it is found, after proceedings conducted under § 32.1403, that the release of the animal would create a significant threat to the public health, safety and welfare. If it is determined that a vicious or potentially dangerous animal may be released, the Chief Officer shall impose conditions upon the ownership of the animal, including, but not limited to, the conditions set forth in § 32.1405 in order to protect the public health, safety, and welfare.
An animal previously determined to be a vicious or potentially dangerous animal may be destroyed by the Animal Care and Control Program when it is found, after proceedings conducted under § 32.1403, that the owner or keeper of the animal has failed to comply with the provisions of § 32.1405(a).
§ 32.1408 Conditions for Prohibiting Ownership of Vicious Animals.
The owner of an animal determined to be vicious or potentially dangerous may be prohibited by the Health Officer from owning, possessing, controlling or having custody of any other animals of dangerous propensities for a period of up to three years, when it is found, after proceedings conducted under § 32.1403, that ownership or possession of such an animal by that person would create a significant threat to the public health, safety, and welfare, as determined by the Chief Officer.
§ 32.1409 Criminal Penalties/Injunction.
The penalties and remedies for violation of this Chapter shall be the same as provided for in §§ 32.0120, Penalties and 32.0121, Injunction.
Contacting an Experienced Lawyer
If you or a loved one has been injured in a dog attack, it is critical that you understand your legal rights and options. Injured victims are often entitled to damages including medical expenses, lost wages, hospitalization, cost of cosmetic surgery and psychological therapy, pain and suffering and emotional distress. The knowledgeable San Bernardino dog bite lawyers at Bisnar Chase can help you secure maximum compensation for your significant losses.