Dangerous Dogs:
Know Your Protections!

Everyone should know what to do in the case you get bitten by a dog, if YOUR dog bites another dog, and more. This page has all the information you need!

Please feel free to reach out to an authorized representative of HeroicK9s LLC at any time with questions, concerns, or if you’re unsure what to do in a violent or dangerous dog situation – including if you’re struggling with your own dog.

HEROICK9S PHONE: (619) 393-8349
TRAINER EMERGENCY EMAIL: headtrainer@heroick9s.com

Report a dog bite ONLINE on the San Diego Humane Society website under “Report an Animal Emergency”.

DISCLAIMER: This information is accurate as of June 2022, and is always subject to change. Please refer to the Department of Animal Services Pet Ownership Laws for current information and exact ordinances.

Dog Bites and Dog-Related Injuries to Humans

According to the San Diego Department of Animal Services (Animal Control), about 800,000 people in the US annually require medical treatment for dog bites and attacks each year. California is one of the few states in the US that has what is called “strict liability” laws in regards to most dog bite and dog-related injuries or fatalities. This means, no matter whether or not you know your dog is prone to dangerous behavior(s), you are liable for the action your dog takes towards people and property (including other dogs).

When victims of domesticated dogs sue for compensation of proven damages, an owner cannot argue in defense of themselves saying they were unaware of their dog’s abilities to harm, or that the correct actions were taken in order to prevent the dog from inflicting harm.

While this law is relatively unwavering, there are some limitations. An owner is only liable in the situation that the victim:

  1. Was bitten by the dog,
  2. Was in public, OR was legally allowed on the property the incident occurred

For example, if a robber broke into your home and your dog bit, fought, or maimed the person in response – whether trained or untrained – you and your dog would not be liable. This is due to unlawful entry onto your property.

On the contrary, if your dog were to bite a mail or food delivery person, you and your dog would not be protected as the delivery person was lawfully on the property.

This does not apply to dogs trained and employed by local agencies (ie. police department, Sheriff’s department) or military working dogs that are on duty doing law enforcement work OR defending themselves from another person. In some situations, a dog closing its jaws on an article of clothing, purse/backpack, or shoe can qualify as a “bite”. This would depend on the individual situation and if the dog has a history of violent actions.

Animal control and law enforcement officers have the ability to request a hearing if they suspect a dog may be a threat. The court can decide if a dog is potentially dangerous, vicious, or a public nuisance, and in these situations, owners must keep their dog under certain conditions. Some of these conditions may include, but not be limited to:

  • Keeping the dog muzzled when outside of the owner’s property
  • Quarantining the dog to inside the home
  • Keeping the dog on a 6-foot or shorter leash at all times 
  • Seeking a veterinary behaviorist or professional behavior modification trainer

HeroicK9s LLC works with dogs in all phases of these situations. Ideally, owners reach out before their dog commits a violent act and is labeled as dangerous, but we often are called once a dog has reached the first or second bite on their county record.

What do I do if my dog bites/I get bitten by a dog?

All dog owners must notify the County Department of Animal Services as soon as possible if their dog bites someone. The dog is then required to be quarantined, whether vaccinated for Rabies or not, for a period of 10 days. On some occasions, typically when this is not the first violent occurrence for the dog, the Dangerous Dog Task Force may capture and impound a dog. Some owners are allowed to quarantine their dog in their home given they can prove their ability to fully isolate the dog from both people and other animals during the 10-day requirement. If an owner is found violating this requirement, they can be charged with a misdemeanor and risk the dog being temporarily or permanently confiscated and sometimes destroyed.

Report a dog bite ONLINE on the San Diego Humane Society website under “Report an Animal Emergency”.

What makes a dog “dangerous”?

  1. The dog has forced people to defend themselves from dangerous behavior while AWAY FROM HOME at least twice in the last 3 years,
  2. The dog has bitten someone without provocation resulting in minor injury, OR
  3. The dog has killed or injured a domesticated animal at least twice in the last 3 years

A dog can be considered a vicious animal if:

  1. The dog aggressively killed or severely injured someone without provocation, OR
  2. The dog has already been determined dangerous and either repeated violent behavior or the owner failed to meet post-quarantine requirements in regards to the dog’s behavior and public safety

In the case that an owner is aware their dog may pose a threat, allows the animal to roam at large, and the dog performs a violent act, the owner may face criminal charges. This can lead to a felony charge if a victim is killed and can lead to a “wobbler” (court-determined felony OR misdemeanor) if a victim is only injured. This does not exclude the victim or family of the victim from pursuing further legal action against the owner of the dog.

When a dog performs a violent act, an owner CAN defend themselves in court if:

  1. The victim was trespassing on private property at the time of the injury,
  2. The victim was at least partially at fault for the incident, OR
  3. The victim voluntarily subjected themselves to injury (ie. a dog trainer)

Protection Dogs

When professionally training, selling, or handling a dog trained to bite or attack on command (ie. protection dog, guard dog, sentry dog), you must obtain a permit as a “protection dog operator”. This includes working dog insurance – $500,000 bodily injury liability and $500,000 property damage liability coverage. This coverage excludes any dog trained for sport as the dog is not trained to bite an object.

There are specific ordinances under San Diego County, and separate ordinances for unincorporated areas, that are subject to change. Please contact the Department of Animal Services for more information on these laws, permits, and ordinances.