Vicious Dog Ordinance Revised

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Source: Santa Barbara Public Health Department

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors revised the Vicious Dog article of the County ordinance, providing more options for hearing officers to set restrictions on owners or deem a dog vicious. The ordinance became effective November 3, 2017.

The ordinance change follows a recent rise in incidents involving dog attacks and hearings to determine appropriate actions to take to protect public safety. Incidents result from a lack of awareness or irresponsibility on the part of the dog owners. The solution is for dog owners to ensure they are responsible and fully in control of their dog at all times.

Steps can be taken to prevent dog attacks. Proper socialization of puppies from a young age is a great start. Take your dog to training classes, as soon as you acquire the dog. If your dog is exhibiting concerning behavior(s) seek help from a trainer or behaviorist before an incident occurs to prevent these tragedies. Be a responsible pet owner and do not allow your pet(s) run loose or to pose a public safety risk to the community.

Follow these recommendations to prevent an incident with your dog, which could lead to people or animals being seriously injured, impoundment of your dog, a hearing and fees and restrictions:

  1. Don’t let your dog run loose and take measures to prevent any accidental escapes.
  2. Ensure that your yard is securely fenced and that gates are latched at all times. Procure locks if keeping gates closed is an issue.
  3. Walk your dog on a leash no longer than 6 feet in length (as required by law) and maintain control of your dog at all times.
  4. If the front door is a possible point of exit for your dog, install a storm type screen door with a self-closer to ensure the dog does not escape.
  5. Educate family members and visitors about your dog’s tendencies. Have them help in ensuring your dog(s) are kept properly confined.
  6. Maintain a current license on your dog, as required by law, and have the dog wear the tag. Microchipping is permanent form of identification and can ensure your dog is returned to you if he or she does get out.
  7. Spay or neuter your dog. An altered animal is less likely to run away to seek a mate, less likely to engage in violent altercations with a human or other animals, and less likely to have hormonally motivated aggression if they do escape from their yard.

The consequences of a dog attack can be far reaching. It may result in injury or death to the victim owner or victim dog. The dog (or dogs) involved in the attack are usually impounded pending a vicious dog hearing. The hearing outcome can be restrictions placed on the dog owner or an order that the attacking dog be euthanized. There is financial liability for the actions of the dog, seizure of the animal and a possible final result of euthanasia. There is also responsibility for the expenses of the impoundment and hearing, and any restrictions that are imposed by a hearing officer.

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Flicka Nov 17, 2017 11:22 AM
Vicious Dog Ordinance Revised

RHS, This is awful about your dog being attacked. I'd imagine today since people have phones to take photos it would be possible to get a shot of the horrible woman who ran off. It galls me when people get away with causing others grief and won't take responsibility.

RHS Nov 17, 2017 02:32 PM
Vicious Dog Ordinance Revised

Flicka, thanks for your concern. Since I was busy breaking up the fight and separating the dogs I was in no position to take a photo. I did have a dog name and breed but had not seen the dog in the area before. Posting the neighborhood did not result in anyone coming forward to identify the dog or acknowledge responsibility. I have moved on since then and accept the situation. But we do need to create social and legal norms to protect people from such behaviors in the future.

RHS Nov 17, 2017 08:43 AM
Vicious Dog Ordinance Revised

Not enforced at all is correct. The people with long leashes, especially on large dogs, are either naive or stupid. These dogs often come over to my dog and get tangled causing potential tripping. But the people who have to show off that they can walk their dogs without leash on public streets are just jerks. There seems to be some macho idea that they have to prove that their German Shepherd or pit bull is under their control as well as a clear intent to intimidate others. Yesterday a man was "walking" his pit bull without leash in my neighborhood, I took to the other side of the street and reminded him that the dog was supposed to be leashed--he simply replied with a sarcasm and smarmy smile. Having had a dog attacked a few years back by a dog that the walker could not control and who would not stay around to identify herself I know the danger. That incident led to my dog being taking to the emergency vet hospital and stitched up. My dog took over a week to recover. My vet bill was unreimbursed (over $1200 as I recall).

420722 Nov 16, 2017 08:29 PM
Vicious Dog Ordinance Revised

I’m happy they are being proactive about this especially as some people seem to be rapidly forgetting the difference between dog and human. I like dogs, not everyone does but everyone has a right not to be attacked by a dog that didnt have proper training or wasn’t leashed.

Flicka Nov 16, 2017 07:03 PM
Vicious Dog Ordinance Revised

As far as retractable leashes, they have to witness it to enforce it, can't be everywhere. A friend who was a postal worker told me the "little ankle biting dogs" were the worst he ever encountered.

CivilEngineer Nov 17, 2017 01:38 PM
Vicious Dog Ordinance Revised

Really, have you ever heard of anyone getting a ticket for this? I think it is something that they would use to fine you if a fight resulted. Sort of like not being stopped for an expired registration sticker unless you ran a stop sign or were speeding.

CivilEngineer Nov 16, 2017 11:59 AM
Vicious Dog Ordinance Revised

Interesting to hear about this after it was passed. Did I miss the part where they asked for public input? Or the part where they describe how the old ordinance limited what they could do? Under it, they euthanized the 3 american bulldogs that attacked their neighbor. I really haven't heard of any other cases since then. Also, does everyone know about the 6 foot leash limit? I see a bunch of people using those retractables. I guess it is not enforced at all.

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