If a dog is determined to be “potentially dangerous” or “vicious” in California, the dog’s owner must take special steps to ensure the dog does not harm anyone. The failure to do so or any continuation of a dog’s aggressive behavior after they are designated as potentially dangerous or vicious can result in legal sanctions against the owner. Anyone harmed by the dog after it receives that designation may also have a particularly strong case against its owner for monetary damages.

If you or someone you love recently sustained injuries in an attack by a dog that has previously been deemed potentially dangerous or vicious, you may have rights to significant compensation from the dog’s owner and others. To learn more, contact the experienced California personal injury lawyers at Setareh Law today.

California’s “Potentially Dangerous” and “Vicious” Dog Designations

Under state law, specific actions or patterns of behavior can result in a court designating it as either “potentially dangerous” or “vicious,” with significant legal and practical consequences for the dog’s owner, animal control authorities, and the public.

Potentially Dangerous Dogs in California

Under Section 31602 of the California Food and Agricultural Code and its accompanying provisions, a state court may deem the dog potentially dangerous in any of the following circumstances:

  • The dog, when unprovoked, on two separate occasions within a prior 36-month period, has engaged in any behavior that requires a defensive action by any person to prevent bodily injury.
  • The dog, when unprovoked, has bitten a person causing an injury other than a “severe injury” (defined as muscle tears, disfiguring lacerations, or trauma that requires multiple sutures or corrective or cosmetic surgery).
  • The dog, when unprovoked, on two separate occasions within a 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.

A dog deemed potentially dangerous is listed on an official government registry for at least 36 months unless its owner can prove that it no longer poses a potential danger. During that time, the owner must adhere to certain obligations and restrictions in keeping and handling the dog. Failing to comply with these obligations can result in monetary fines, seizure of the dog, and having the dog designated as vicious.

Vicious Dogs in California

The classification of a dog as vicious by a state court, per Section 31603 of the California Food and Agricultural Code, is a step up in severity from a potentially dangerous designation. A dog can be deemed vicious if:

  • When unprovoked, in an aggressive manner, inflicts severe injury on or kills a human being.
  • It has previously been determined to be and is currently listed as a potentially dangerous dog and, after its owner or keeper has been notified of this determination, continues behaving dangerously or is kept and handled in violation of the rules described above.

Owning a vicious dog in California carries with it the same obligations above, but is also subject to being destroyed by animal control authorities if they can prove in an official proceeding that it poses a significant threat to the public health, safety, and welfare.

Contact an Experienced California Dog Attack Injury Lawyer at Setareh Law Today

A dog designated as potentially dangerous or vicious by a California court has already engaged in conduct that endangers the public. If such a dog bites you or your loved one, you may have the right to demand significant compensation from its owner. But obtaining payment for your losses isn’t easy, even when the dog poses known dangers. To ensure you receive your due, ask an experienced dog bite injury attorney to handle your claim. 

Setareh Law is an award-winning California personal injury law firm with years of experience securing compensation for dog bite victims. Contact us online or call us at (310) 659-1826 for a free consultation with a knowledgeable member of our team. We also speak Spanish.