Amendments Proposed to Define and Address Dangerous or Vicious Dogs

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Source: City of Santa Barbara 

City staff will consider proposed changes to the City’s municipal code that addresses dogs that have exhibited dangerous or vicious behavior. The proposed changes will go before the Ordinance Committee meeting at its April 19 meeting.

Key changes will determine the definition of a dangerous or vicious dog and the administrative hearing and appeal process for dogs determined to be dangerous or vicious.

The amendments also allow a hearing officer to require owners of dogs that have acted in a dangerous or vicious manner to apply corrective actions such as putting up a fence around the yard, making the dog wear a muzzle in public, obedience-training classes, or obtaining liability insurance. Other additional management actions can include: posting notices on the property that there has been a determination of a vicious dog; using a secure enclosure; and prohibiting ownership for a period of three years. A provision has been added allowing an animal guardian to file a petition requesting removal of the dangerous or vicious designation after a 2-year period if no additional incidents have taken place.

Other important amendments to the code include:

  • Addition of a section addressing adequate care of animals;
  • Defining an irresponsible owner;
  • Defining what constitutes a dog noise nuisance;
  • Providing the federal and state definition of a service animal and requiring a person who has a service animal to obtain a service animal license and tag;
  • Amending the city’s rabies vaccination requirements.

The Santa Barbara Police Department provides enforcement of animal control within the City limits while the County provides impoundment services.

The proposed ordinance changes will go before the City Council at its April 26 meeting.

The proposed ordinance can be found HERE.

Interested parties can submit public comment on this matter via email to:

The public can get instructions on how participate in the Ordinance Committee meeting by visiting: Santa Barbara - Ordinance Committee Meetings: Dates, Agendas, Minutes, and Videos (

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ljmdance Apr 09, 2022 01:43 PM
Amendments Proposed to Define and Address Dangerous or Vicious Dogs

Sure, little dogs can be at risk of attack... BUT SO AM I! I am so sick and tired of people's off-leash (or even on-leashes-too-long-with-humans-glued-to-their-cell-phones) dogs chasing and lunging at me while I'm running! Or people allowing their leashed dogs to run across the sidewalk in front of me! I could break a bone... my own or their tiny dog's if it gets close enough for me to kick it in self-defense. It's unbelievable how rude and selfish some (not all) people are, seriously acting as though I should change my course/run off the sidewalk so that their dog doesn't have to! And breathe.

Gimli Apr 08, 2022 11:41 AM
Amendments Proposed to Define and Address Dangerous or Vicious Dogs

My first pup was half Lab and half Dalmatian, all black. I got him when he was 6 weeks old at Ortega Park around '70 or '71 when I was 13 or 14. That was when people gave away free pups and kittens, and also one could take their pets on occasions for free vaccinations at Ortega Park. I named him 'Blackie'. 'Blackie' was the last of his kind along with some of the other mutts in my neighborhood over on the 400 block of N. Voluntario St. up until I had to put him down on New Year's Eve in '83. 'Blackie' use to romp all over the Eastside, he would go to Safeway (now Trader Joe's) to visit the employees there in his own way to say "Hi" and they would always welcomed him and gave him snacks. He would also go to Pat's Liquor Store on Milpas and visit Pat and Jack the original owners. He was welcomed there as well. And he would also go to Franklin School to play with the kids before classes would start in the mornings or sometimes during recess. 'Blackie' was the friendly neighborhood dog that everyone knew and loved, not one viciousness in his blood and bones. And of course many times I had to bail him out from 'Doggy Jail'. He was even friendly with the Catcher that 'Blackie' would even volunteer to jump in back of the truck and be hauled away to 'Doggie Jail'. I still miss 'Blackie' to this very day.

a-1649401614 Apr 08, 2022 12:06 AM
Amendments Proposed to Define and Address Dangerous or Vicious Dogs

When a breed becomes popular so does backyard breeding and pets given as gifts. For years the shelters were filled with Chihuahuas, Chows & Rottweilers. Then it became Pitties & Huskies. Shepherds have always been in the mix. If the public knew how many dogs are euthanized every month at animal shelters in SB County for “ behavioral “ problems they would be shocked and maybe think twice before buying that puppy. These are dogs of all breeds. Dogs who have been abandoned because of careless ignorant people. Dogs who are fearful because of neglect, abuse or simply sitting in the shelter environment for so long. Dogs are also euthanized because of space in Santa Barbara County. So please be a responsible pet owner. Spay & Neuter your animals, socialize and get training early on and if you find you cannot take care of an animal, find a home for it. Our shelters are a death sentence for any over active, vocal or shy dog. Do your research before bringing any pet home. Adopt don’t shop. So many great dogs are in desperate need of loving homes.

a-1649450717 Apr 08, 2022 01:45 PM
Amendments Proposed to Define and Address Dangerous or Vicious Dogs

Here is a link to monthly shelter statistics. You can click on each month to see the number of animals euthanized for behavior problems VS medical. There are animal adoption websites like pet Finder which advertise adoptable animals at our local shelter and rescues.

Bird Apr 08, 2022 12:03 PM
Amendments Proposed to Define and Address Dangerous or Vicious Dogs

It is the SB County shelter and it should be public knowledge how many dogs are euthanized each month (or week?) and what are the reasons for the euthanization and the breeds or apparent breeds. There should also be a weekly list of the dogs available for adoption. That would be helpful for adoptees.

About 12 years ago, I was looking to adopt and on recommendation from a friend, went to the Baldwin Park shelter because, she said, it was a "kill shelter" and there wasn't much time. Then, there were volunteers who worked with the shelter and published online a list of the dogs available, with a photo, and a descriptive writeup. ...I don't think that group exists anymore but it was because of them that I adopted. Perhaps there could be something similar here?

SBTownie Apr 07, 2022 04:54 PM
Amendments Proposed to Define and Address Dangerous or Vicious Dogs

I mean this is great and totally agree it's overdue. But enforcement on this is unlikely to happen which sucks.

There is a serious problem with off leash culture and the proliferation of dangerous breeds of dogs. I remember 25 years ago very few people had pit bulls. Now they're everywhere and often off the leash. The adoptive owners are so proud of their "bullies" and their do-gooder action of "rescuing" their dog and will go to their graves proclaiming there are no bad dogs, only bad owners. We all know there are both.

I can barely take my small (leashed) dog anywhere and feel safe. He was already attacked completely unprovoked and behind a couple years ago at Miramar by an off leash dog. It was one of the worst experiences of my life though thankfully he was ok and bounced back. The other day we were out for a walk on in the lower Riviera when I heard a growling coming from a porch above us. A pitbull that I could see had no restraint was acting aggressively toward us and I had no sense this dog had any restraint whatsoever and felt it could simply run down the street and maul and kill us both.

Pits are not the only dogs that should require a license to own. Malinois, shepherds, and more can be vicious and hard to control and only deserve the best of handlers and owners. It is my strong opinion that the adoption-industrial-complex has contributed to brainwashing people into thinking pitbulls have been "misunderstood" and they have contributed to irresponsible breeding because people know they always have a safe, warm place to dump their unplanned litters and more. There is a reason nearly every dog at every pound in America is a pit bull. Because they are bad dogs and difficult and dangerous to own.

sacjon Apr 07, 2022 06:31 PM
Amendments Proposed to Define and Address Dangerous or Vicious Dogs

SBTOWNIE - again, hostility and insults. What's your deal? First of all, I never disputed they are "dangerous," so don't change the subject. I asked why said all pit bulls "are bad dogs." Big difference.

I'm an animal lover and comments like yours encourage a stereotype that is harmful. Sounds like you'd support banning, and even eradicating, an entire breed of dog. Blanket statements like this of entire group, even animals, is not only illogical, it's wrong. Not carrying on with the like of you, you're not worth my time.

SBTownie Apr 07, 2022 06:17 PM
Amendments Proposed to Define and Address Dangerous or Vicious Dogs

Hey Stoner. Thanks for taking care of your dog and keeping it leashed appropriately. I agree with u re: the dogs. Regardless of size, off leash is bad. The dog that attacked our guy was probably only 15lbs at most but vicious nonetheless. That said, a pit bull could have killed our guy instantly and I would have had a lot harder time intervening and put my own safety at risk (which I did not) when I had to pull the other dog off my own. But I agree with you that the biggest problem is usually owners not leashing their dogs. That said, we have numerous local stories of things including pit bulls getting out or scaling fences and attacking. It doesn't always involve being in public, though that is the biggest risk setting and where the most change could be enacted if people just kept their dogs on a leash and controlled them. If they want to take the risk in their own home, they can do that, but the second they enter public or have any scenario (like the one I described on the Riviera) where the dog can break out and harm anyone, not ok. All of that said I fundamentally disagree with you on pits. If we had a world of off-leash pugs I suspect we'd end up with a few light maulings a year and maybe one horrific instance of a death. But with pit bulls? No one can argue that statistic would be worse. Pit bull can be a deadly weapon and there are no controls in check to make sure "the right" people are owning them "responsibly." It begs the question why we allow these dogs to proliferate at all. And if the problem is "bad owners" or abuse which I don't disagree with you bad owners and abuse definitely contribute to whatever problem exists, then maybe we should just euthanize the dogs that have been terribly abused because no amount of rehab can guarantee the undoing of their fear conditioning from abuse.

SBStoner Apr 07, 2022 05:58 PM
Amendments Proposed to Define and Address Dangerous or Vicious Dogs

SBTownie. Let’s agree to disagree. An owner not understanding their dog’s history shouldn’t have a dog, and a dog, ANY dog with a history of bad behavior should not be brought out without a leash, e collar and muzzle. Pits in general are not the problem, but there are plenty of problem pit bulls and problem owners. Sadly most of those problems stem from abusive upbringings. My pitbull is great and well behaved but we keep him on leash where required. Where that turns into a problem is when someone not obeying the leash policy brings up a yappy, hyper dog that runs circles around my dog which definitely aggravates him. I’ve attempted to contact campus safety at CC (where I am a student) about this and they have ignored my emails. So now I’m voicing this here and the superintendent and animal control will be next to hear about it. But no, you don’t need a special license for any type of dog in particular and to ask owners of specific breeds to get one is like asking sports car owners to get a special permit when all cars can kill people nonetheless. Good luck with your anti-bulldog sentiment though

SBTownie Apr 07, 2022 05:26 PM
Amendments Proposed to Define and Address Dangerous or Vicious Dogs

Unless you're 4 years old I shouldn't need to explain to you why pit bulls are dangerous, though I went ahead and did. If you have some Minority Report type technology we can use to find out which pits will go on to kill or maul or maim you should really let the world in on it. You asked "if each and everyone one of them [is] born evil and ready to kill?" so I'm assuming you believe they are not born ready to kill and in fact are just sweetie pies who get "bad owners." If you want we can take a drive up to SLO together and visit my uncle's place. He's got a nice spread, with a few pits. He's been keeping them for 20 years or so. So far only two have killed other dogs, but the rest have been total sweethearts. And the one who killed my grandfather's sweet hound? He was just "trying to play." Some delusions just won't die and the pit bull mass cult is alive and well and counts followers like my relatives amongst its disciples.

SBTownie Apr 07, 2022 05:17 PM
Amendments Proposed to Define and Address Dangerous or Vicious Dogs

Of course this would be a hill you want to die on, Sac.

No, animals are not "evil." Even the most vicious animals like lions or cougars or pits are not evil. They are doing what evolution, or in the case of pits - selective and purposeful breeding, designed them to do. For pits their traits are: incredible PSI in the jaw (though a few other breeds such as rotties have them beat - if rotties were as popular as pits, we'd see more rotty stories in the news), extreme prey drive, very high muscularity and power, and tendency toward vicious and unprovoked responses that are a result of a long heritage of breeding for temperament that made them successful in the fighting pit.

a-1649374556 Apr 07, 2022 04:35 PM
Amendments Proposed to Define and Address Dangerous or Vicious Dogs

Off leash dogs are a problem even on local streets. Every few weeks I encounter some ass who refuses to leash his (almost always a male) dog. They are incredibly uncivil and arrogant. Some sort of sublimated anger it seems.

SBStoner Apr 07, 2022 03:45 PM
Amendments Proposed to Define and Address Dangerous or Vicious Dogs

I’ve long been annoyed by irresponsible dog owners who’s entitlement makes them think that their dog is ok to be off leash in areas with clear signage. Especially when they bring their dog up to my dog who is always on leash when required. The problem is especially bad at SBCC and on trails in the foothills

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