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Santa Barbara County Dog Bite Laws

Beware of the dog sign on a fence

Santa Barbara County has a comprehensive set of ordinances or laws that govern dangerous dogs. Below are some animal control laws that state how the county will deal with dangerous or vicious dogs that attack other animals or human beings.

If you are the victim of a dog attack in or near Santa Barbara, know your rights and contact an attorney for expert guidance. Call (800) 561-4887 for a free consultation.

Table of Contents

Sec. 7-22. Dangerous Animals Generally

(a) It shall be unlawful for the owner or person having custody of any animal determined to be a dangerous animal, after notification from the county, to fail to take such action as may be required by the county to protect persons or other animals from such dangerous animal.
(b) After notification from the county of the determination that an animal is dangerous, if the owner or person having custody of a dangerous animal fails forthwith to take such action as required by the county to protect persons or other animals from such dangerous animal, the dangerous animal may be seized and humanely destroyed by the county. The taking of such action shall in no way absolve the owner or custodian of a dangerous animal from civil liability or other criminal liability. (Ord. No. 2850, § 5)

Sec. 7-23. Procedure When Animal Bites Person or Animal

The county may direct the owner or custodian of any animal which is determined by the county to have bitten any person or other animal to comply with one of the following procedures if so required by the county:
(a) Isolate the biting animal on the premises of the owner or custodian of such animal for a period of time determined by the county.
(b) Surrender the biting animal to the county for isolation and impoundment for the period of time determined by the county.
(c) Surrender the animal to a licensed veterinarian for isolation for the period of time determined by the county.
It shall be unlawful for the owner or custodian of a biting animal to fail to comply with the county’s requirements set forth in this section.
If the animal isolated is determined not to be infected with rabies at the end of the period of isolation, it shall be released to the owner or custodian of the animal upon the payment of any fee, charge, or penalty including any fee for veterinary services. If such fee, charge, or penalty is not paid within five days after notification by the county such animal may be sold, given away, or humanely destroyed. (Ord. No. 2580, § 5)

Sec. 7-53. Purpose: Definitions

(a) Public Menace. Within the County of Santa Barbara, there are dangerous dogs that constitute a public menace that should be abated. The provisions of this article set forth administrative procedures by which a dog found to be a danger to public safety may become subject to appropriate controls following a hearing at which oral and documentary evidence is considered. This article is intended to supplement rather than supplant any other remedy available under state statute or county ordinance.
(b) Definitions. For the purposes of this article, the following words and phrases shall have the following meanings:
(1) “Director of animal health and regulation” means the county animal health and regulation director, or his designee.
(2) “Animal health and regulation” means the animal health and regulation division of the county environmental health services department.
(3) “Senior animal control officer” means the person responsible for the supervision of animal control officers at any shelter.
(4) “Animal control officer” means any county employee designated by resolution of the board of supervisors as primarily responsible for animal control and regulation.
(5) “Owner” means the owner or the custodian of the dog subject to the provisions of this article.
(6) “Protection dog” means any dog trained to guard, protect, patrol, or defend any premises, area, or yard, or any dog trained to protect, defend or guard any person or property, with or without the necessity of direct human supervision. (Ord. No. 3856, § 1; Ord. No. 4059 § 1)

Sec. 7-54. Dangerous Dog: Definition

“Dangerous dog” means any dog which:
(a) Has bitten or caused serious injury to a person or domestic animal without provocation; or
(b) Menaces or attempts to bite or attack any person without provocation, or destroys property; or
(c) Engages in an attack which requires a defensive action by any person to prevent bodily injury or property damage when such person is acting in a peaceful and lawful manner; or
(d) Engages in or is found to have been trained to engage in exhibitions of fighting; or
(e) Is a protection dog as defined in section 7-53(b)(6) of this article that is straying or has escaped from confinement or restraint, is at large or otherwise unrestrained, uncontrolled or unleashed on or in a public street, sidewalk, park, beach, or other public place or property, or in or upon any private property or building during such time that said private property or building is open to the general public, or in or upon the private property of another person without the consent of the person.
The provisions of this section shall not apply to any dog assisting a peace officer engaged in law enforcement duties, or guide dogs for the blind or deaf while performing their duties. (Ord. No. 3856, § 1; Ord. No. 4059 § 1)

Sec. 7-55. Dog Bites by Dogs at Large: Penalty

An owner of a dog who permits, allows, or causes a dog to run, stray, or be uncontrolled or at large upon a public street, sidewalk, park, or other public property, or in or upon the private property of another person is guilty of a public offense punishable as an infraction under section 7-65 or misdemeanor if said dog or other animal bites, attacks or causes injury to any human being or other animal. When a violation of this section is punishable as a misdemeanor, the misdemeanor is punishable by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars, or by imprisonment in the county jail for a period not exceeding six months, or by both such fine and imprisonment. (Ord. No. 3856, § 1; Ord. No. 4059, § 1)

Sec. 7-56. Dangerous Dog: Impoundment

(a) Impoundment. The senior animal control officer may, at his discretion and upon receipt of a written report from any other animal control officer or based upon his own written report which shows good cause that a dog engaged in any behavior as defined in section 7-54, immediately cause the impoundment of any such dog reported to have caused the injury or exhibited such dangerous behavior if such impoundment appears necessary to prevent immediate injury to person or property, or if it appears that the owner of such dog is either unwilling or incapable of maintaining confinement and control of such dog.
(b) Surrender of Dog. Any owner of a dog subject to the provisions of this section shall immediately surrender custody and control of such dog at the request of the senior animal control officer. A violation of the provisions of this subsection is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars, or by imprisonment in the county jail for a period not exceeding six months, or by both such fine and imprisonment.
(c) Notice of Impoundment. Within seventy-two hours after impoundment of any dog pursuant to this article, the senior animal control officer shall give written notice of such impoundment to the owner with a summary of the facts justifying impoundment. Such notice shall be mailed to the owner’s last known address giving the date, time, and place for a hearing on the impoundment, and advising the owner of the right to be present with or without counsel. A copy of any affidavit or report submitted to the senior animal control officer pursuant to subsection (a) of this section shall accompany the written notice of impound. (Ord. No. 3856, § 1; Ord. No. 4059, § 1)

Sec. 7-65. Violation: Penalty for Infraction

Any person violating section 7-55 of this article, where such violation is punishable as an infraction, is guilty of an infraction, which is punishable by:
(a) A fine not exceeding one hundred dollars for a first violation;
(b) A fine not exceeding two hundred dollars for a second violation of this article within one year;
(c) A fine not exceeding five hundred dollars for each additional violation of this article within one year. (Ord. No. 3856, § 1; Ord. No. 4059 § 1)

Contacting a Dog Bite Attorney

The experienced Santa Barbara County dog bite lawyers at Bisnar Chase understand the physical and emotional trauma a dog attack can generate for the victims and their families. Injured victims of dog attacks can seek compensation from the dog owner for damages, including medical expenses, the cost of hospitalization, surgery, psychological therapy, and pain and suffering.

A lawyer specializing in dog bite injury cases and keeping pace with changing laws in your area can help you achieve the best possible outcome and help you secure maximum compensation for your significant losses.

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