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San Luis Obispo residents are protected by laws to address the issue of dangerous dogs and the liability of dog owners. Here are some of the county’s ordinances that apply to dog ownership, dog attacks, and dog owner liability.
Table of Contents
9.08.020 Leash Law
(a) It is unlawful for any person to suffer or permit any dog owned, harbored, or controlled by him to be on any public street, alley, lane, park, or place of whatever nature open to and used by the public in the unincorporated area of the county unless such dog is securely leashed and the leash is held continuously in the hand of a responsible person capable of controlling such dog, or unless the dog is securely confined in a vehicle, or unless the dog is at “heel” beside a person and obedient to that person’s command.
(b) Dogs used on farms and ranches for the primary purpose of herding livestock are not required to be leashed or at “heel” outside their owner or person controlling the use of these dogs while on a public street, alley, lane, or place of whatever nature open to and used by the public in the unincorporated area of the county while herding such livestock and as long as these dogs are obedient to the commands of the person controlling their use for this purpose. Dogs are used for the primary purpose of hunting as long as these dogs are obedient to the commands of the person controlling their use for this purpose. (Ord. 2474 § 1 (part), 1990)
6.20.070 Menacing and Aggressive Animals: Animal Owner and Property Owner Responsibility
A. It is unlawful for any person to keep, harbor, or maintain any aggressive or menacing animal, which threatens, harasses, or intimidates a person who is peaceably and lawfully upon public or private property unless it is contained in an enclosure of a construction adequate to keep it securely confined and prevent its escape.
B. It is unlawful for any person to permit any animal owned, harbored, or controlled by him or her to attack and cause severe bodily injury or death to another domestic or captive animal while off the property of its owner or keeper.
C. Upon notification of a violation of subsection A of this section, the animal owner(s) must immediately confine the animal to an enclosure or location which mitigates the aggressive and menacing behavior.
D. For the purposes of this section, the following definitions apply:
1. “Aggressive animal” means any animal whose observable behavior causes a person observing that behavior reasonably to believe that the animal may attack a person or another animal without provocation.
2. “Menacing animal” means any animal which, through its behavior, causes a person observing or subject to that behavior to be in reasonable fear for his or her safety, or the safety of animals kept by him or her. Police or military service canines being utilized in an official capacity are excluded from this definition.
3. “Severe bodily injury” means any physical injury which results in deep lacerations with separation of subcutaneous tissues, muscle tears or lacerations, fractures or joint dislocations, or permanent impairment of locomotion or special senses.
E. Penalties for violation:
1. Three hundred fifty dollars ($350) for the first violation.
2. Seven hundred dollars ($700) for the second violation of subsection A or B of this section within one year.
3. One thousand dollars ($1,000) for each additional violation of subsection A or B of this section within one year.
4. For the purposes of this section, the first violation of subsection A of this section will be deemed to have occurred if the menacing or aggressive animal is not confined as required by subsection C of this section within twenty-four hours of notification; a separate violation of subsection A of this section shall be deemed to exist for each twenty-four-hour period following notification in which an animal’s menacing or aggressive behavior continues unmitigated.
5. Where criminal enforcement of this section is pursued, any violation of this section shall be deemed a misdemeanor, notwithstanding Section 1.12.060.
F. Liability of Property Owners. Owners of properties upon which a tenant keeps, harbors, or maintains any aggressive or menacing animal may, along with the animal owner(s), be jointly and severally liable for penalties related to violations of subsection A of this section, provided that they have received at least fourteen days prior written notice of the existence of such violation and the violation has not been abated. No penalty shall be imposed upon the property owner if the property owner can demonstrate, within fourteen days following notification that a violation has occurred, that the property owner has initiated action to abate the illegal activity on the property. (Ord. 1581 § 1, 2012)
9.08.125 Reporting of Bites
All persons bitten and the parent or guardians of minor children bitten by a dog, cat, skunk, fox, bat, coyote, bobcat, or another animal or species subject to rabies should notify the division within twenty-four hours of the next division business day. Physicians treating such bites and other persons having knowledge of such bites shall also be required to make such notification. (Ord. 2764 § 1 (part), 1996: Ord. 2474 § 1 (part), 1990)
9.08.130 Biting Dogs
It is a misdemeanor for any person to suffer, or permit any dog or other animal owned, harbored, or controlled by him, to inflict upon any human being a bite that penetrates the skin while the person bitten is on any public place, or legally upon any private property. The person bitten may request the animal control officer to initiate criminal proceedings against such other person by submitting a signed, written complaint. (Ord. 2474 § 1 (part), 1990)
9.08.140 Impounding of Biting Dogs
(a) Upon written notice by the division, the owner or person having the control of any dog which has, within the preceding ten days, bitten any person or animal shall, upon demand, and in the discretion of the division, do one of the following:
(1) Confine the dog to his own premises; or
(2) Surrender the dog to the division which shall impound and keep the dog at the public pound in a separate enclosure for a period of not less than ten days; or
(3) Surrender the dog to a licensed veterinarian as designated by the division; or
(4) Surrender the dog to the division for quarantine at any other location or facility designated and approved by the division.
(b) If the dog is quarantined on the premises of the owner, the division may post a quarantine sign on such premises, and it is unlawful for any person to remove the sign during the term of such quarantine without the consent of the division. Any quarantine provided in this section shall be for a term of not less than ten days unless otherwise specified by the division.
(c) During the period, it shall be the duty of the division to determine whether or not such animal is suffering from any disease. If a duly licensed veterinarian designated by the division shall determine that the animal is diseased and, by reason of such disease, is dangerous to persons or to other animals, he shall so notify the division in writing to destroy the animal. A copy of the notice may also be served upon the owner or person having control of the animal.
(d) If the veterinarian shall determine that the dog is not so diseased, the division shall notify the person owning or having control of the animal at the address from which the animal was surrendered to the division and shall, upon demand, release the animal to the owner or person lawfully entitled thereto, upon payment of any charges provided therefor, including expenses of quarantine and veterinary care; provided, however, that if no person lawfully entitled to such animal shall within three days after the date of giving the last-mentioned notice, appear at the public pound and request the release of the dog, and pay the charges, the animal may be sold or destroyed by the division in the same manner hereinbefore provided.
(e) Whenever a dog is ordered to be quarantined on the premises of the owner, an administrative fee to cover the expense of monitoring the quarantine will be charged. (Ord. 2764 § 1 (part), 1996: Ord. 2474 § 1 (part), 1990)
Contacting an Experienced Lawyer
If you or a loved one has been injured due to a dangerous or vicious dog in San Luis Obispo County, the experienced dog bite lawyers at Bisnar Chase can help protect your rights and ensure that you are fairly and fully compensated for your injuries, damages, and losses. We have successfully handled many dog attack cases on behalf of injured clients and will put our knowledge of the law and years of experience to work for you.