What Will Happen to the Dog

In most cases, absolutely nothing happens to the dog except that it might be quarantined for a few days (frequently at the dog owner’s home). If the attack is brutal or other conditions are met, however, the local animal control authority or court may issue orders requiring that the dog be confined or destroyed. In California, a Court can declare a dog to be a “potentially dangerous dog” or a “vicious dog.”

  • A “potentially dangerous dog” has to be confined inside, or in a fenced yard that is escape-proof and child-proof. When off the owner’s property, it has to be restrained by a substantial leash and under the control of a responsible adult.
  • A “vicious dog” can be destroyed or, if the dog is to remain alive, severe conditions may be imposed for the protection of the public.

To read more about the legal aspects of vicious and dangerous dogs, see Dangerous dogs.

Dog bite victims often do not want anything to happen to the dog. If the local animal control department has not been notified, the victim can instruct his or her attorney to refrain from doing so. The attorney is required to do a client’s bidding with regard to notification of the authorities (as well as anything else affecting the client’s rights). A victim therefore can be assured that nothing will happen to a dog against the victim’s will.

If the victim’s presence is required at a “dangerous dog hearing,” she should consult with an attorney. The procedures often followed by animal control departments in “dog court” hearings may unintentionally compromise the victim’s rights. A victim and her family therefore should not communicate with animal control authorities until her lawyer reviews the city and county ordinances, obtains the department’s commitment as to which laws and procedures they will be following, and is satisfied that the issues addressed elsewhere in Dog Bite Law will be resolved fairly. (See Dog Bite Victims Need an Attorney for “Dog Court.”)