Chapter 6.14
POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS
AND VICIOUS DOGS

Sections:

6.14.010    Purpose.

6.14.020    Definitions.

6.14.030    Determination of potentially dangerous and vicious dogs and possible actions.

6.14.040    Hearing.

6.14.050    Control of vicious dogs.

6.14.060    Exceptions.

6.14.010 Purpose.

Within the city of Livermore there are potentially dangerous and vicious dogs. Such dogs have become a threat to the safety and welfare of the citizens of Livermore. The provisions of this chapter set forth the procedures for finding a dog potentially dangerous or vicious and subjecting the dog to appropriate controls and enforcement actions. This chapter is intended to supplement rather than supplant any other remedies available under this code or state law. (Ord. 1643 § 1, 2001)

6.14.020 Definitions.

A. “Animal control officer” means a city of Livermore animal control officer.

B. “Hearing officer” means the Livermore city manager or his or her designee.

C. “Owner” of a dog shall include a keeper, custodian, handler, or a person having immediate control of the dog.

D. “Potentially dangerous” describes a dog meeting any of the following criteria:

1. Any dog which, when unprovoked, on two separate occasions within the prior 36 months, engages in aggressive behavior including but not limited to growling, barking, chasing, lunging, or behaves in a manner that requires a defensive action by a person to prevent bodily injury when the person is off the property of the owner of the dog.

2. Any dog which, when unprovoked, bites a person inflicting a less severe injury than that defined in subsection E of this section.

3. Any dog which, when unprovoked, has killed, seriously bitten, inflicted injury, or otherwise caused injury attacking a domestic animal off the property of the owner of the dog.

E. “Severe injury” means any physical injury to a human being that results in muscle tear or disfiguring lacerations or requires multiple sutures or corrective or cosmetic surgery.

F. “Vicious” describes a dog meeting any of the following criteria:

1. Any dog which, when unprovoked, inflicts severe injury on or kills a human being.

2. Any dog previously determined to be a potentially dangerous dog which, after its owner has been notified of this determination, continues to behave in the manner described in subsection D of this section.

3. Any dog seized under Section 599aa of the California Penal Code and upon the sustaining of a conviction of the owner or keeper under subdivision (a) of Section 597.5 of the California Penal Code. (Ord. 1643 § 1, 2001)

6.14.030 Determination of potentially dangerous and vicious dogs and possible actions.

A. Any dog that the animal control officer believes to be potentially dangerous or vicious shall be impounded by or surrendered to the animal control officer, or quarantined upon the owner’s property in an approved enclosure, as directed by the animal control officer.

B. The animal control officer shall take the severity of the injury and the number of attacks and the circumstances into consideration in making his or her determination. If the animal control officer determines a dog to be potentially dangerous or vicious, he or she may take any of the following actions or a combination thereof:

1. Take no further action against the dog and its owner;

2. Require that the dog be permanently removed from the city;

3. Determine that the owner or the custodian will lose all rights of ownership and control of the dog;

4. Restrict the owner’s future ownership of a dog;

5. Order that the dog be put on a leash not to exceed six feet long whenever accessible to public and/or be securely tied or chained or muzzled as ordered by the animal control officer;

6. Order the animal destroyed;

7. Order any other appropriate action;

8. In addition to any of the above, the officer may order the owner to reimburse the city for the cost of maintaining the dog, if applicable.

C. The animal control officer shall notify the owner of the dog in writing of his or her determination as well as the owner’s right to appeal the officer’s decision within five business days, either in person or by first class mail with return receipt requested.

D. If a dog has been determined to be potentially dangerous or vicious under this section, the owner may appeal such a determination in writing within five business days of receipt of the animal control officer’s notification. (Ord. 1643 § 1, 2001)

6.14.040 Hearing.

The hearing officer shall hold a hearing within 10 days, not including weekends or holidays, after receipt of the request if the dog has been surrendered or impounded by the animal control officer. Where the animal has not been surrendered to or impounded by the animal control officer, the hearing officer shall promptly set a time and place for the hearing and shall cause notice of the hearing to be personally delivered to the owner or deposited in the mail.

The hearing officer may uphold, modify or dismiss the determination of the animal control officer on the basis of evidence produced at the hearing. Subsequently, the hearing officer shall give written notice of his or her decision within 15 days of the hearing to the owner. This decision shall be final. (Ord. 1643 § 1, 2001)

6.14.050 Control of vicious dogs.

A. A person owning or having custody of a dog determined to be vicious shall confine it within a building or secure enclosure, as described below.

B. A vicious dog shall be kept securely confined indoors or in a securely enclosed escape-proof locked kennel or pen other than when on a leash as described below. Such kennel, pen or structure must have secure sides and a secure top attached thereto. The kennel or pen shall be constructed in a manner so that it cannot be broken down by any action of the confined dog. All structures used for confinement of vicious dogs must be locked with a key or combination lock of sufficient strength to ensure confinement of the dog. Such structures must be erected upon a secure bottom or floor constructed of concrete or other material sufficient to prevent the dog from digging free. Vicious dogs enclosed in a house, apartment, building or similar structure shall be allowed only where the windows and doors of said structure are secured to prevent the dog from exiting without the assistance of the owner or person with the right to control such animal.

C. A vicious dog may be permitted off the owner’s premises only when it is securely muzzled and is leashed on a leash not to exceed three feet in length and under the control of a person 18 years of age or older, who is physically capable of restraining the animal. This leash must be capable of restraining four times the weight of the dog. Moreover, the leash must be attached to an escape-proof commercial quality walking harness which fastens securely across the shoulders and mid-chest encompassing the rib area and upper abdomen of the dog. No collar of any type or material will be sufficient to satisfy the above requirements. Vicious dogs shall not be leashed or tethered at any time to inanimate objects such as trees, posts, or buildings. The muzzling device for vicious dogs must be constructed so that it is impossible for the dog to remove it without human assistance.

D. A sign advising of the presence of a vicious dog shall be posted at the entrance to every place wherein any such vicious dog is confined. The sign shall be capable of being understood by a child. This sign must be approved by or provided by the animal control officer.

E. Transportation of a vicious dog shall only be in locked animal carriers equivalent in construction quality to those used by commercial air carriers. Moreover, a vicious dog shall not be left unattended or loose in or about any motor vehicle.

F. The owner must notify the city prior to any change in location of the dog or new ownership at least 48 hours prior to any change. (Ord. 1643 § 1, 2001)

6.14.060 Exceptions.

A. No dog may be declared potentially dangerous or vicious if any injury or damage is sustained by a person who, at the time the injury or damage was sustained, was committing a willful trespass or other tort upon the owner’s premises, or the injured party was tormenting, abusing, or assaulting the dog, or was committing or attempting to commit a crime. No dog may be declared potentially dangerous or vicious if the dog was protecting or defending a person within the immediate vicinity of the dog from an unjustified attack or assault. No dog may be declared potentially dangerous or vicious if an injury or damage was sustained by a domestic animal which at the time of the injury or damage was sustained was tormenting, abusing or assaulting the dog.

B. No dog may be declared potentially dangerous or vicious if the injury or damage to a domestic animal was sustained while the dog was working as a hunting dog, herding dog, or predator control dog on the property of, or under the control of, its owner, and the damage or injury was to a species or type of domestic animal appropriate to the work of the dog.

C. This chapter does not apply to humane society shelters, animal control facilities, or veterinarians or to dogs while utilized by any police department or any law enforcement officer in the performance of police work; guide dogs for the blind or deaf while performing their duties; dogs participating in field or obedience trials or conformation exhibitions; dogs assisting their owner in legal hunting activities or in the herding of livestock. (Ord. 1643 § 1, 2001)