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Imperial County Dog Bite Laws

Imperial County has seen some of the deadliest dog attacks in recent times. The county has a number of laws that help define dangerous and vicious dogs and procedures pertaining to such animals that cause injury and harm to members of the community. If you've been injured by a dangerous dog please contact us 1-800-561-4887 for a free consultation with an experienced dog bite lawyer.

6.16.010 Purpose and intent.

  1. Within the county of Imperial are certain dogs and other animals whose conduct results in incidents of attacks, biting and menacing behavior toward adults and children by such dogs and other animals.
  2. These incidents present a public health and safety problem to the residents of Imperial County and increasing numbers of cases have resulted in painful and/or serious injuries to adults and children, death and injuries to other animals, attendant economic losses to county residents.
  3. Therefore, it is necessary to:
    1. increase the total number of animals which are licensed and thus properly vaccinated against rabies;
    2. encourage the spaying and neutering of animals, which reduces the number of strays at large and the financial cost to taxpayers of animal control services; and
    3. establish a warning and hearing procedure to put the owners of potentially dangerous animals on notice to control such animal and to either restrict such animals or destroy them, where other lesser measures have failed or are inappropriate. (Ord. 1347, § 2 (part), 2002)

6.16.020 Definitions.

Whenever, in this chapter or in any resolution or standard adopted by the board of supervisors, the following terms are used, they shall have the meaning ascribed to them in this section, unless it is apparent from the context thereof, that some other meaning is intended.
"Attack" means any action by an animal which places a person in danger of immediate bodily harm.
"Animal control officer" means the animal control officer of the department of public health or the county veterinarian or his or her duly authorized representative.
"Potentially dangerous animal" means:

  1. Any animal which has once actively pursued, attacked, bitten, or otherwise caused a less severe injury than a "substantial injury" (as defined in this section), to another person engaged in a lawful activity.
  2. Any animal which has once attacked, bitten, or otherwise caused a less severe injury than a "substantial injury" (as defined in this section), to another animal.
  3. Any animal which is found actively pursuing livestock, poultry, dogs, cats or other animals.

"Substantial injury" means a substantial impairment of the physical condition of a person or animal which requires professional medical treatment, including, but not limited to, loss of consciousness; concussion; bone fracture; protracted loss or impairment of function of any bodily member or organ; muscle tears, disfiguring lacerations, punctures, or a wound requiring multiple sutures; or any injury requiring corrective or cosmetic surgery.
"Secure enclosure" means a fence or structure suitable to prevent the entry of young children or any part thereof, and which is suitable to confine a potentially dangerous, or dangerous animal in conjunction with other measures which may be taken by the owner or keeper of the animal, or at the direction of the animal services manager. The enclosure shall be designed to prevent the animal from escaping and from preventing an adult or child from coming in contact with the animal. (A chain where a person can walk within the length of the chain, or an electric collar or invisible fence is not a sufficient restraint or enclosure.)
"Vicious animal." Any animal, except a dog assisting a peace officer engaged in law enforcement duties, which demonstrates any of the following behavior, is presumed vicious:

  1. An attack which results in property damage, substantial injury, or death to a person when such a person is conducting himself or herself peacefully and lawfully.
  2. An attack on another animal, livestock, or poultry which occurs on property other than that of the owner of the attacking dog.

For the purposes of this section, a person is conducting himself or herself peacefully and lawfully upon the private property of an owner or possessor of the animal or dog when he or she is on such property in the performance of any duty imposed on such person by state or local law or by the laws or postal regulations of the United States, or when he or she is on such property upon invitation, either expressed or implied. (Ord. 1347, § 2 (part), 2002)

6.16.030 Administrative restraint order for potentially dangerous animals.

  1. If a county officer has cause to believe that an animal is a potentially dangerous animal, the animal control officer shall issue a potentially dangerous animal restraint order to the owner(s) or custodian(s) of any such dog or animal that fits the description of a potentially dangerous animal. The statement shall be served by hand-delivery or first-class mail. The statement shall notify the owner(s) or custodian(s) of such animal(s) that such owner(s)/custodian(s) is/are required thereafter at all times to keep such animal(s) in a secure enclosure or provide such other adequate secure restraint as may be specified on the restraint order.
  2. An owner(s)/custodian(s) of an animal(s) receiving a potentially dangerous animal restraint order may request a hearing on the order by a hearing officer selected by the department director. The request for a hearing must be submitted in writing during the seven calendar days following the service of the order. Pending such hearing, the animal must be kept in a secure enclosure or adequately restrained as specified in the restraint order.
  3. Failure of the owner(s)/keeper(s) to request a hearing on the restraint order within the seven day period, or failure to attend or be represented at a scheduled hearing, shall constitute a waiver of the right to a hearing and shall satisfy the hearing requirements provided herein.
  4. All hearings pursuant to subsection B of this section shall be conducted by the hearing officer who shall not have been directly involved in the subject action. Hearings shall be held not more than seven working days from the date of receipt of the request for the hearing and shall be conducted in an informal manner consistent with due process of law. A hearing may be continued for a period of time not to exceed thirty (30) days if the hearing officer deems such continuance to be necessary and proper. Within seven days after the conclusion of the hearing, the hearing officer shall render, in writing, his or her findings, decision and order thereon and shall give notice of the findings, decision and order to the owner or custodian of the subject animal; service of such notice shall be by mail or hand delivery.
  5. An animal which has been determined to be a potentially dangerous animal following the conclusion of this process shall be added to a list of potentially dangerous animals maintained by animal control. Once an animal has been determined to be a potentially dangerous animal, if there are no additional instances of the harmful behavior within a thirty-six (36) month period from the date of the restraint order, the animal may be removed from the list of potentially dangerous animals by the animal control officer. (Ord. 1347, § 2 (part), 2002)

6.16.040 Impoundment and abatement of dangerous animals.

The animal control officer is authorized and empowered to impound and/or abate (destroy) any vicious dog or animal, or a dog or animal declared potentially dangerous who has committed two instances of harmful behavior within a thirty-six month period from the date of issuing any restraint order. The authority is independent of any criminal prosecution or the results thereof by any means reasonably necessary to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public including, but not limited to, the imposition upon the owner and/or custodian of specific, reasonable restrictions and conditions for the maintenance of the animal. Restrictions and/or conditions resulting from abatement proceedings may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. Requiring the owner of the animal, possessor of the animal or owner of the premises on which the animal is kept to obtain and maintain liability insurance in the amount of one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000.00) and to furnish a certificate or proof of insurance by which the division shall be notified at least thirty (30) calendar days prior to cancellation or nonrenewal;
  2. Requirements as to the size, construction and design of structured enclosure for the animal;
  3. Location of the animal's residence including prior notice of plans to move the animal to another location or to a location outside of Imperial County and obtaining approval from the animal control to do so after proper notification of animal regulation in the new jurisdiction;
  4. Requirements as to type and method of restraints for the animal; including but not limited to, leashes, muzzles and confinement in a kennel or other facility;
  5. Photo identification or permanent marking of the animal for purposes of identification;
  6. A requirement to obtain a dangerous animal registration and/or requiring a tattoo or micro chip noting the declaration and registration with Imperial County animal control;
  7. A requirement to spay or neuter the animal;
  8. Requirements to allow inspection of the animal and its enclosure by animal control or any other law enforcement agency without warrant, and to produce upon demand, proof of compliance with such requirements of this section; as may be applicable; and
  9. Posting in a conspicuous place at or near the entrance to the premises on or within which any dog or animal is kept, a sign having letters at least two inches in width and two inches in height and reading "Beware of vicious dog" or if not a dog, "Beware of vicious [animal]." (Ord. 1347, § 2 (part), 2002)

6.16.050 Possession unlawful without adequate restraint.

It is unlawful for a person to have the custody of or own or possess an animal that is restricted as above provided, unless the animal continues to be restrained or confined to prevent it from being at large or from causing damage to any property or injury to any person or other animal. (Ord. 1347, § 2 (part), 2002)

6.16.060 Change of ownership, custody and/or location of animal.

The owner and/or custodian of an animal that is on restriction as above provided and who moves or sells the animal(s), or otherwise transfers the ownership, custody or location of the animals(s), shall, at least fifteen (15) days prior to the actual transfer or removal of the animal, notify animal control in writing of the name, address and telephone number of the proposed, new owner or custodian, and/or the proposed, new location of the animal, and the name and description of the animal(s). Animal control may prohibit the proposed relocation for cause.

  1. The owner and/or custodian shall, in addition to the above, notify any new owner or custodian in writing regarding the details of the animal's record, and the terms and conditions for confinement and control of the animal. The transferring owner and/or custodian shall also provide the division with a copy of the notification to the new owner or custodian containing an acknowledgment by the new owner or custodian of his or her receipt of the original notification and acceptance of the terms and conditions. Animal control may impose different or additional restrictions or conditions upon the new owner or custodian.
  2. If the animal should die, the owner and/or custodian shall notify animal control no later than twenty-four (24) hours thereafter and, upon request, from the division shall produce the animal(s) for verification. If the animal escapes, the owner and/or custodian shall immediately notify the division and make every reasonable effort to recapture the escaped animal.
  3. An animal that has been declared dangerous or vicious in any legal hearing as a result of aggressive behavior outside of Imperial County, it may not be relocated in Imperial County. (Ord. 1347, § 2 (part), 2002)

6.16.070 Surrender of animal upon demand.

The owner and/or custodian of any animal on restriction who is in violation shall surrender such animal to animal control upon demand. (Ord. 1347, § 2 (part), 2002)

6.16.080 Hearing procedures and charges.

Charges for hearing procedures and costs of confinement at a shelter associated with enforcement under this chapter shall be recovered from the animal's owner or custodian. (Ord. 1347, § 2 (part), 2002)

If You Have Been Injured

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 dog bite victims struggle physically, emotionally and financially. Dog attacks can leave individuals disfigured and permanently scarred. A number of victims need several cosmetic surgeries to help repair scars from dog attacks. The experienced Imperial County dog bite attorneys at Bisnar Chase have the knowledge, skill and experience necessary to help you achieve the best possible outcome. We will remain on your side, fight for your rights and help ensure that you receive maximum compensation for your losses. Call us to find out how we can help you. Call 1-800-561-4887.

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