Injury Law Blog

California city considers ordinance to reduce dog attacks

A California city is deciding whether to combat serious and fatal dog bite attacks by implementing an ordinance that would require all dog and cat owners to spay or neuter their animals over the age of six months. The measure is also aimed at reducing overpopulation of unwanted or stray animals.

The Pasadena City Council will consider the measure at a meeting tonight. Violators of the ordinance would face a fine. There would be an exception for pets that are service animals, too sick for surgery as well as law enforcement dogs.

This isn’t the first time the city has considered a measure to prevent dog attacks. Last year, the city considered banning pit bull dogs but there is a state law on the books that prevents bans on specific breeds of dogs.

While dogs can make wonderful companions, they can also be extremely dangerous. Even dogs that are believed to be gentle or docile can attack seemingly out of nowhere. Under California law, if a dog has bitten a person more than two times it is considered a vicious dog.

What that means is the owner must confine and monitor the dog to make sure that no one else is bitten. If a third bite should occur, the dog can be taken by animal control or the district attorney and the dog could be put down.

While many people don’t want to be responsible for a dog being “put down” it’s important for victims to stand up for themselves after being attacked. Not only is it possible for victims to be compensated for their injuries, it also reduces the likelihood of another person being attacked.

In California, dog owners are strictly liable for dog attacks, whether they knew the pet was dangerous or not. Typically, it’s the dog owner’s homeowners insurance that covers damages stemming from a dog attack.

Source: KPCC 89.3, “Pasadena considers mandatory spay-and-neuter for all animals,” July 14, 2014