THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:
SECTION 1. Chapter 9 (commencing with Section 31601) is added to Division 14
of the Food and Agricultural Code, to read:
CHAPTER 9. POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS AND VICIOUS DOGS Article 1. Findings,
Definitions, and General Provisions 31601. The Legislature finds and declares
all of the following:
(a) Potentially dangerous and vicious dogs have become a serious and
widespread threat to the safety and welfare of citizens of this state.
In recent years, they have assaulted without provocation and seriously
injured numerous individuals, particularly children, and have killed
numerous dogs. Many of these attacks have occurred in public places.
(b) The number and-severity of these attacks are attributable to the
failure of owners to register, confine, and properly control vicious
and potentially dangerous dogs.
(c) The necessity for the regulation and control of vicious and
potentially dangerous dogs is a statewide problem, requiring statewide
regulation, and existing laws are inadequate to deal with the threat
to public health and safety posed by vicious and potentially dangerous
31602. 'Potentially dangerous dog' means any of the following:
(a) Any dog which, when unprovoked, on two separate occasions within
the prior 36-month period, engages in any behavior that requires a
defensive action by any person to prevent bodily injury when the
person and the dog are off the property of the owner or keeper of the
(b) Any dog which, when unprovoked, bites a person causing a less
severe injury than as defined in Section 31604.
Any dog which, when unprovoked, on two separate occasions within the
prior 36-month period, has killed, seriously bitten, inflicted injury,
or otherwise caused injury attacking a domestic animal off the
property of the owner or keeper of the dog.
31603. 'Vicious dog, means any of the following:
(a) Any dog seized under Section 599aa of the Penal Code and upon the
sustaining of a conviction of the owner or keeper under subdivision
(a) of Section 597.5 of the Penal Code.
(b) Any dog which, when unprovoked, in an aggressive manner, inflicts
severe injury on or kills a human being.
(c) Any dog previously determined to be and currently listed as a
potentially dangerous dog which, after its owner or keeper has been
notified of this determination, continues the behavior described in
Section 31602 or is maintained in violation of Section 31641, 31642,
31604. 'Severe injury' means any physical injury to a human being that results
in muscle tears or disfiguring lacerations or requires multiple sutures or
corrective or cosmetic surgery.
31605. 'Enclosure' means a fence or structure suitable to prevent the entry of
young children, and which is suitable to confine a vicious dog in conjunction
with other measures which may be taken by the owner or keeper of the dog. The
enclosure shall be designed in order to prevent the animal from escaping. The
animal shall be housed pursuant to Section 597t of the Penal Code.
31606. 'Animal control department' means the county or city animal control
department. If the city or county does not have an animal control department,
it means whatever entity performs animal control functions.
31607. 'Impounded' means taken into the custody of the public pound or animal
control department or provider of animal control services to the city or
county where the potentially dangerous or vicious dog is found.
31608. 'County' includes any city and county.
(a) This chapter does not apply to licensed kennels, humane society
shelters, animal control facilities, or veterinarians.
(b) This chapter does not apply to dogs while utilized by any police
department or any law enforcement officer in the performance of police
Article 2. Judicial Process
31621. If an animal control officer or a law enforcement officer has
investigated and determined that there exists probable cause to believe that a
dog is potentially dangerous or vicious, the chief officer of the public pound
or animal control department or his or her immediate supervisor or the head of
the local law enforcement agency, or his or her designee, shall petition the
municipal court within the judicial district wherein the dog is owned or kept,
for a hearing for the purpose of determining whether or not the dog in
question should be declared potentially dangerous or vicious. A city or county
may establish an administrative hearing procedure to hear and dispose of
petitions filed pursuant to this chapter. Whenever possible, any complaint
received from a member of the public which serves as the evidentiary basis for
the animal control officer or law enforcement officer to find probable cause
shall be sworn to and verified by the complainant and shall be attached to the
petition. The chief officer of the public pound or animal control department
or head of the local law enforcement agency shall notify the owner or keeper
of the dog that a hearing will be held by the municipal court or the hearing
entity, as the case may be, at which time he or she may present evidence as to
why the dog should not be declared potentially dangerous or vicious. The owner
or keeper of the dog shall be served with notice of the hearing and a copy of
the petition, either personally or by first-class mail with return receipt
requested. The hearing shall be held promptly within no less than five working
days nor more than 10 working days after service of notice upon the owner or
keeper of the dog. The hearing shall be open to the public. The court may
admit into evidence all relevant evidence, including incident reports and the
affidavits of witnesses, limit the scope of discovery, and may shorten the
time to produce records or witnesses. A jury shall not be available. The court
may find, upon a preponderance of the evidence, that the dog is potentially
dangerous or vicious and make other orders authorized by this chapter.
(a) After the hearing conducted pursuant to Section 31621, the owner
or keeper of the dog shall be notified in writing of the determination
and orders issued, either personally or by first-class mail postage
prepaid by the court or hearing entity. If a determination is made
that the dog is potentially dangerous or vicious, the owne'r or keeper
shall comply with Article 3 (commencing with Section 31641) in
accordance with a time schedule established by the chief officer of
the public pound or animal control department or the head of the local
law enforcement agency, but in no case more than 30 days after the
date of the determination or 35 days if notice of the determination is
mailed to the owner or keeper of the dog. If the petitioner or the
owner or keeper of the dog contests the determination, he or she may,
within five days of the receipt of the notice of determination, appeal
the decision of the court or hearing entity of original jurisdiction
to a court authorized to hear the appeal. The fee for filing an appeal
shall be twenty dollars ($20.00), payable to the county clerk. If the
original hearing held pursuant to Section 31621 was before a hearing
entity other than the municipal court of the jurisdiction, appeal
shall be to the municipal court. If the original hearing was held in
the municipal court, appeal shall be to the superior court within the
judicial district wherein the dog is owned or kept. The petitioner or
the owner or keeper of the dog shall serve personally or by
first-class mail, postage prepaid, notice of the appeal upon the other
(b) The court hearing the appeal shall conduct a hearing de novo,
without a jury, and make its own determination as to potential danger
and viciousness and make other orders authorized by this chapter,
based upon the evidence presented. The hearing shall be conducted in
the same manner and within the time periods set forth in Section 31621
and subdivision (a). The court may admit all relevant evidence,
including incident reports and the affidavits of witnesses, limit the
scope of discovery, and may shorten the time to produce records or
witnesses. The issue shall be decided upon the preponderance of the
evidence. If the court rules the dog to be potentially dangerous or
vicious, the court may establish a time schedule to ensure compliance
with this chapter, but in no case more than 30 days subsequent to the
date of the court's determination or 35 days if the service of the
judgment is by first-class mail.
31623. The court or hearing entity of original jurisdiction or the court
hearing the appeal may decide all issues for or against the owner or keeper of
the dog even if the owner or keeper fails to appear at the hearing.
31624. The determination of the court hearing the appeal shall be final and
conclusive upon all parties.
(a) If upon investigation it is determined by the animal control
officer or law enforcement officer that probable cause exists to
believe the dog in question poses an immediate threat to public
safety, then the animal control officer or law enforcement officer may
seize and impound the dog pending the hearings to be held pursuant to
this article. The owner or keeper of the dog shall be liable to the
city or county where the dog is impounded for the costs and expenses
of keeping the dog, if the dog is later adjudicated potentially
dangerous or vicious.
(b) When a dog has been impounded pursuant to subdivision (a) and it
is not contrary to public safety, the chief animal control officer
shall permit the animal to be confined at the owner's expen,se in a
department approved kennel ,or veterinary facility.
(a) No dog may be declared potentially dangerous or vicious if any
injury or damage is sustained by a person who, at the time the injury
or damage was sustained, was committing a willful trespass or other
tort upon, premises occupied by the owner or keeper of the dog, or was
teasing, tormenting, abusing, or assaulting the dog, or was committing
or attempting to commit a crime. No dog may be declared potentially
dangerous or vicious if the dog was protecting or defending a person
within the immediate vicinity of the dog from an unjustified attack or
assault. No dog may be declared potentially dangerous or vicious if an
injury or damage was sustained by a domestic animal which at the time
the injury or damage was sustained was teasing, tormenting, abusing,
or assaulting the dog.
(b) No dog may be declared potentially dangerous or vicious if the
injury or damage to a domestic animal was sustained while the dog was
working as a hunting dog, herding dog, or predator control dog on the
property of, or under the control of, its owner or keeper, and the
damage or injury was to a species or type of domestic animal
appropriate to the work of the dog.
Article 3. Disposition of Potentially Dangerous or Vicious Dogs
31641. All potentially dangerous dogs shall be properly licensed and
vaccinated. The licensing authority shall include the potentially dangerous
designation in the registration records of the dog, either after the owner or
keeper of the dog has agreed to the designation or the court or hearing entity
has determined the designation applies to the dog. The city or county may
charge a potentially dangerous dog fee in addition to the regular licensing
fee to provide for the increased costs of maintaining the records of the dog.
31642. A potentially dangerous dog, while on the owner's property, shall, at
all times, be kept indoors, or in a securely fenced yard from which the dog
cannot escape, and into which children cannot trespass. A potentially
dangerous animal may be off the owner's premises only if it is restrained by a
substantial leash, of appropriate length, and if it is under the control of a
31643. If the dog in question dies, or is sold, transferred, or permanently
removed from the city or county where the owner or keeper resides, the owner
of a potentially dangerous dog shall notify the animal control department of
the changed condition and new location of the dog in writing within two
31644. If there are no additional instances of the behavior described in
Section 31602 within a 36-month period from the date of designation as a
potentially dangerous dog, the dog shall be removed from the list of
potentially dangerous dogs. The dog may, but is not required to be, removed
from the list of potentially dangerous dogs prior to the expiration of the
36-month period if the owner or keeper of the dog demonstrates to the animal
control department that changes in circumstances or measures taken by the
owner or keeper, such as training of the dog, have mitigated the risk to the
(a) A dog determined to be a vicious dog may be destroyed by the
animal control department when it is found, after proceedings
conducted under Article 2 (commencing with Section 31621), that the
release of the dog would create a significant threat to the public
health, safety, and welfare.
(b) If it is determined that a dog found to be vicious shall not be
destroyed, the judicial authority shall impose conditions upon the
ownership of the dog that prot ect the public health, safety, and
(c) Any enclosure that is required pursuant to subdivision (b) shall
meet the requirements of Section 31605. 31646. The owner of a dog
determined to be a vicious dog may be prohibited by the city or county
from owning, possessing, controlling, or having custody of any dog for
a period of up to three years, when it is found, after proceedings
conducted under Article 2 (commencing with Section 31621), that
ownership or possession of a dog by that person would create a
significant threat to the public health, safety, and welfare.
Article 4. Penalties
31662. Any violation of this chapter involving a potentially dangerous dog
shall be punished by a fine not to exceed five hundred dollars ($500.00). Any
violation of this chapter involving a vicious dog shall be punished by a fine
not to exceed one thousand dollars ($1,000.00).
31663.- All fines paid pursuant to this article shall be paid to the city or
county in which the violation occurred for the purpose of defraying the cost
of the implementation of this chapter.
Article 5. Miscellaneous
31681. If any provision of this chapter or the application thereof to any
person or circumstance is held invalid, that invalidity shall not affect
othe-r provisions or applications of the chapter which can be given effect
without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the provisions
of this chapter are severable.
31682. The Judicial Council shall prepare all forms necessary to give effect
to this chapter, including a summons or citation to be used by law enforcement
agencies in the enforcement of this chapter. This chapter does not affect or
change the existing civil liability or criminal laws regarding dogs.
31683. Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to prevent a city or county
from adopting or enforcing its own program for the control of potentially
dangerous or vicious dogs that may incorporate all, part, or none of this
chapter, or that may punish a violation of this chapter as a misdemeanor or
may impose a more restrictive program to control potentially dangerous or
vicious dogs, provided that no program shall regulate these dogs in a manner
that is specific as to breed.
SEC. 2. No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to Section 6 of
Article XIIIB of the California Constitution for those costs which may be
incurred by a local agency or school district because this act creates a new
crime or infraction, changes the definition of a crime or infraction, changes
the penalty for a crime or infraction, or eliminates a crime or infraction.
Moreover, no reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to Section 6 of
Article XIIIB of the California Constitution because the local agency or
school district has the authority to levy service charges, fees, or
assessments sufficient to pay for the program or level of service mandated by
this act. Notwithstanding Section 17580 of the Government Code, unless
otherwise specified in this act, the provisions of this act shall become
operative on the same date that the act takes effect pursuant to the